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Collaboration Meets Innovation to Create a New CATA Bus Stop

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Categories: Blog, Community, Employees

Collaboration and innovative ideas are part of what makes our team so special – especially when they’re least expected. 

Nick Zickefoose, a customer experience representative at CATA, saw a need in the community and set out to fulfill it. 

Using Teamwork and Customer Feedback to Turn an Idea into Reality

A CATA rider contacted Nick suggesting a new bus stop on Route 9 in front of Atlas Meds Pharmacy. “He told me about how a lot of elderly and disabled customers use that particular pharmacy, but they had to walk from the current Route 9 stops to get there – which isn’t always easy for someone depending on their situation,” Nick said. Before a new stop was in place, the walk to Atlas Meds Pharmacy was several blocks. 

“The addition of this stop made sense from a number of angles,” said Kai Christiansen, the CATA Service Planning and Scheduling Manager. 

Kai received an email from Nick with the new bus stop suggestion. “I didn’t want to just let [the] request go unheard as it sounded like it had the potential to help a lot of people,” Nick said. “I remembered being told early in my time at CATA about Kai Christiansen over in planning and he’s incredibly good with these sorts of things.”

CATA Customer Experience Representative Nick Zickefoose

 

Kai was pleasantly surprised when Nick reached out to him and immediately got to work. “The quality of the information which Nick provided to me made my work easy,” Kai said. He noted it was "clear and actionable, making this process very straightforward.”

How a New Bus Stop is Created

The creation of a new CATA bus stop involves communication with stakeholders and configuration to meet customer, property owner and municipal needs. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance is also important. 

Once the stop has been designed, the building can begin. A contractor is methodically chosen, geolocation is added and a stop number is assigned.

The process to create a new bus stop involves CATA’s planning, facilities and procurement departments. It wouldn’t be possible without a strong and passionate team.

“It is always rewarding to be able to help facilitate the needs of our customers and create transportation solutions that make sense,” Kai said. 

The new stop on Route 9 is now up and running on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in front of Atlas Meds Pharmacy.

CATA bus stop #6081 in front of Atlas Meds Pharmacy

CATA’s priority continues to be meeting the mobility needs of our region. This priority is made possible in part through our dynamic, collaborative workforce. 

To learn more about Nick Zickefoose and the collaborative efforts of his department, click here.

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Behind the Curtain of Customer Experience

Friday, October 2, 2020

Categories: Blog, Employees

You may know our customer experience representatives –⁠ or CRXs, for short –⁠ as voices on the phone or faces in the information booth at CATA facilities.

At a glance, these employees sell passes, administer fare tokens and provide rider information. But their role goes far beyond what meets the eye.

CXR Nick Zickefoose cites around a dozen online programs he has to use quickly and efficiently to give customers the best information.

“I do feel like a lot of the people in the City of Lansing tend to view us as a very reliable source of information, not just for CATA,” Zickefoose said. “Oftentimes we’ll end up answering questions just about the city in general, for people that have just moved here.”

The customer experience department receives hundreds of phone calls a day. Sometimes these come from parents asking for information for their students. Other times, calls come from those looking for a ride to a nearby homeless shelter for their next meal. The team knows many of these customers by name, and remains when to lend a helping hand or listening ear.

“Just being able to help somebody is one of my most enjoyable parts about this job,” said Schuyler Brown, another member of the CXR team.

Customer Experience Representative Schuyler Brown poses in front of the CATA Transportation Center

Zickefoose recounts the times he’s stayed on the phone with new riders until they reach their nearest bus stop and feel comfortable. He’s also provided words of encouragement to customers going through tough times.

 “There are a lot of moments where there’s a deeper interaction with our customers and the people who live in Lansing,” Zickefoose said.

Customer Experience Supervisor Sam Soliz notes there are many unpredictable factors in public transportation –⁠ weather, traffic, red lights, accidents, medical emergencies and detours to name a few.

“If our department can use our tools and our empathy to eliminate any or all of that stress, we’ve made the customers day just a little bit better,” Soliz said. “That’s what it’s all about –⁠ removing just one pain point from their day in the hopes of making it better.”

Thank you to this team for making days at CATA better for our employees, riders and the public. The community is incredibly fortunate to have such empathetic, resourceful and talented representatives getting people where they need to go.

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Leading with Love

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Categories: Blog, Employees

CATA Customer Experience Manager.

That may be Margaret Stephen’s job title, but others call her the heart of the customer experience department.

“Her understanding, her love … she goes beyond what a supervisor is supposed to even care about,” said Schuyler Brown, a member of the customer experience team. “In any situation where we need her, she’s right there. She’s got our backs.”

Margaret describes herself as one of those people who really loves her job. That love shines through to her team, other CATA employees and the public as she works hard to keep the CATA Transportation Center running smoothly.

Customer Experience Manager Margaret Stephens stands in front of the CATA Transportation Center

“I couldn’t have asked for a better boss for my first job out of college,” said Nick Zickefoose, another customer service representative. “Margaret is so attentive. She’s on the ball. She’s so friendly. She knows everything that we need to know about customer service, and she’s so enthusiastic about it.”

But according to Zickefoose, his boss doesn't just focus on doing her job well. She also empowers others to improve.

"She works so hard to make sure that everyone in our department is happy, healthy, doing our best, and also improving,” Zickefoose said. “She has a very vested interest in making sure that as individuals and as professionals, we’re becoming better people. And I appreciate it beyond anything else.”

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