Customer experience experts strike gold

Tuesday, March 7, 2023
Harry Reid International Airport Customer Support and Quality Improvement Manager Pauline Arroyo (Photo by Shaun Phillips)

Complaining passengers are nothing new for TSA employees.

Whether working at the checkpoint or baggage screening, front-line employees make every effort to give passengers a pleasant customer experience. But security screening can be confusing and stressful, and there’s any number of reasons why a passenger might have a complaint.

Customer service managers (CSMs) and customer support and quality improvement managers (CSQIMs) are on the receiving end of those comments and diligently work at resolving issues efficiently and effectively. Their outstanding work does more than just polish TSA’s image. The actions of CSMs/CSQIMs put care for our people at the heart of what they do.

Nevada’s Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) CSQIM Pauline Arroyo and North Carolina’s Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CTL) CSM Don Shank were acknowledged as having attained “gold” status for their speedy and heartwarming resolutions to passenger problems. They successfully closed assigned complaints within 30 to 60 days last year.

Their swiftness only tells part of the story. Going above and beyond their official duty is what makes them and the work they do gold-level special.

Arroyo’s attention to a customer complaint about who can use the Passenger Support Specialists (PSS) and TSA Cares programs changed the program for the better.

“A LAS guest, who frequents our TSA checkpoints on a bi-monthly schedule, recently came through LAS and provided Arroyo an opportunity to be proactive with her outreach,” said LAS Assistant Federal Security Director-Mission Support Alexander Stungurys.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport Customer Service Manager Don Shank (Photo by Andrew Small)
Charlotte Douglas International Airport Customer Service Manager Don Shank (Photo by Andrew Small)

The parent doesn’t fly but escorts her two minor children twice a month through LAS checkpoints.

“The guest said she had been unable to avail herself of the TSA Cares and PSS programs because she was not considered a ticketed passenger and that red tape was preventing her from being able to use those services,” explained Stungurys.

In conversations with the guest and with leadership for TSA customer support programs that claim was verified, leading Arroyo to initiate a policy change with TSA’s Disability Branch.

“Pauline’s findings put in place a corrective action plan so that all persons coming through TSA checkpoints would be able to use the TSA Cares program nationwide whether they were flying or not,” said Stungurys. “Pauline’s actions and the subsequent change to the program had an impact on the passenger, TSOs and TSA nationwide.”

At CLT, Shank went above and beyond in assisting a stressed and grieving family.

“During what must have been a very stressful time, a passenger inadvertently left the crematory remains of their parents at one of our checkpoints,” said CLT Supervisory Program Analyst Andrew Small.

Once the prescribed 30-day window for claiming lost items elapsed, Shank, along with the Coordination Center, researched and identified the crematory facility.

“After some conversations with the director of the facility, they were able to identify the family,” said Small. “You can just imagine how relieved the family was when Shank told them that the remains were safely in our possession and being picked up by the crematory representatives. “

“I would like you to know that I am sincerely grateful and extremely thankful for your act of kindness in your attempt of keeping crematory remains of my parents,” read a hand-written note from the family to Shank. “You couldn’t have shown up at a better time! Thank you so much!” 

“CLT was recently highlighted by HQ Traveler Engagement Division Customer Service Branch due to CLT being a top performer in customer service,” said CLT Federal Security Director Beth Walker. “This honor is attributable to Don as he consistently works to improve the customer experience throughout the CLT area. Don ensures passengers receive prompt, accurate responses to their concerns, as well as preparing passengers for checkpoint screening. North Caroline’s CLT, Asheville Regional Airport and Concord-Padgett Regional Airport Officers regard Don as an ally in keeping the line moving and passengers happy!”

By Karen Robicheaux, TSA Strategic Communications and Public Affairs