Detroit Dept. of Transportation (DDOT) bus drivers are planning on disrupting Monday commutes as they protest recent treatment by riders according to information reported by WXYZ-TV News yesterday. They cited Fred Westbrook, Jr., of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) as saying the drivers are taking the brunt of consumer frustration over the poor performance of the bus lines.
Chief among the complaints is overcrowding and long waits for pick-up and reactions have been assaults on drivers by passengers.
Front-line employees such as bus drivers, cashiers or airport gate agents have historically taken the brunt of customer dissatisfaction. This is especially true when the key decision makers running a business are insulated from the customer.
Consider the hit television series “Undercover Boss”. Each week a leading company executive dons a disguise and goes into company locations to find out what is really happening at the company. Yet these executives typically interact with company employees, not customers.
Understanding the customer is vital in business. Sam Walton said, “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
Walton worked hard to relate to his customers. He talked with him regularly, developed cash register driven reports that went beyond simple line item sales and he maintained a lifestyle similar to his customers despite his tremendous personal wealth.
DDOT has responded to the drivers’ complaints. Although they are working to improve service they have also looked to add cameras to the buses to protect the drivers.