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As 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.”