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Customer Service Reps
Enjoy Helping Passengers
By Roishina C. Henderson

They can be the first friendly faces that passengers see when they arrive in Atlanta, or they can help save the day for the frantic passenger who can’t find his or her gate.

They don’t wear a Superman cape, but you can spot them just the same in their teal green jackets or vests. They are the customer service representatives (CSR) of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and their experiences hold a ton of heartfelt stories.

During a recent interview, four highly regarded CSRs talked about why their jobs mean so much to them and why going beyond the call of duty is a part of their personal commitment to their jobs.
Customer service reps in action

“We care,” said Lisa Sombodo, a Hawaii native who speaks four languages. “In June, we had a 70-year-old Vietnamese woman who didn’t speak any English, was traveling alone and was scared because the plane was having trouble. They had to stop in Atlanta. I took care of her, made sure she had food, obtained a hotel voucher, and I made sure the hotel management knew about her situation.”

Sombodo didn’t stop there. When Huong Duong, the passenger, returned to the Airport the next day, Sombodo was there to greet her with a smiling face.

When Duong’s family heard about how Sombodo took special care of their relative, Sombodo was invited to their family reunion in North Carolina. Now Sombodo keeps in touch with the family through e-mails.

About 40 CSRs can be found throughout the north and south sides of the terminal and on all concourses. Their primary functions are to assist passengers and Airport customers with directions, provide information about Atlanta and make their travel experience as pleasurable as possible, said Don Braddock, an eight-year customer service veteran.

Customer service reps in action

“Customer service reps have to be socially oriented and like helping people without expecting any kind of reward,” said Alioune Ndoye, a customer service supervisor who has been at the Airport for six years. “You have to be aware of your body language because the Airport brings people in from all over the world, and you don’t want to do anything to offend anyone. You also have to learn to not take things personally when you run into a rude customer. Stay calm, get a supervisor and help the passenger.”

Ndoye recalls helping a woman from Africa who had never been on an escalator. “She held on to my arm tight and closed her eyes,” said Ndoye, who is from Senegal, West Africa. “So many times you will see people who will be stepping on American soil for the first time.”

Airport Operations Supervisor Khern Forde appreciates the work the CSRs provide. “They are an essential part of the Airport, and they assist the Department of Aviation greatly in achieving our goals. Without the help of CSRs, our task of running the Airport efficiently and safely would be virtually impossible.”

William Smith is still fairly new to the CSR position, but he’s committed to the work he’s doing. “It’s not a job, but a commitment,” he says. “And I’m not talking about a commitment to a company’s policies or rules, but a personal commitment.”

Four Useful Tips From Hartsfield-Jackson
Customer Service Representatives

  • Allow plenty of time to get to the Airport and get through security checkpoints. For domestic flights, arrive two hours prior to your scheduled departure time. Arrive three hours early for international flights.
  • Double check the gate number of your flight once you arrive at the Airport, because gate numbers can change. Read electronic monitors that provide arrival and departure information.
  • Once you pass the security checkpoint, do not leave the secured area.
  • Remember TSA’s 3-1-1 rule: No liquids of more than three ounces in one, clear, one-quart resealable transparent bag.

© 2008 Hartsfield-Jackson News. A Publication from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. All rights reserved.


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