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s part of an ongoing customer service initiative, Miami International (MIA) has sought the assistance of a recognized leader in that area – Walt Disney Co.

Several employees from MIA received a behind-the-scenes tour of the Disney organization. Then trainers from the Disney Institute, which is renowned for its training programs for government and corporate entities, traveled to MIA for several full- and half-day training exercises, says Greg Chin, airport spokesman.

More than 400 airport employees have attended the sessions and 16 airport tenants, including vendors, TSA officers, concessionaires and others have sent people as well.

“It’s a good cross section of the airport population,” Chin says. “They voluntarily wanted to participate. We were very encouraged by that.”
The training didn’t come as a result of any perceived shortcomings in the way MIA was already conducting its business. Rather it’s part of an ongoing 16-point customer service plan encompassing everything from maintaining quality service in retail and food outlets through training, complaint resolution and secret shopping to improving signage and creating a unified look for all Miami-Dade Aviation Department officials through new, flashy uniforms designed by artist Romero Britto.

“It’s just something we know we have to stay on top of our game with,” Chin says. “That’s what makes a great airport. We know we are the gateway to Miami.”

The program was first approved in January and airport officials have been working on the various points ever since. In addition to the Disney training, for example, MIA has contracted with Carter & Burgess Inc. to help clear up signage issues and create clear “wayfinding” components at the airport designed to ease traveler stress.

The efforts have largely been successful to this point. Complaints were down 12% in fiscal year 2007 which ended Sept. 30, 2007, compared with the previous year. And about one-quarter of the comment cards airport officials received contained positive feedback, Chin says.
“It’s a work in progress,” he says. “We’re doing the best we can.”