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A Little Recognition Goes a Long Way

December 12, 2018

By Carolyn Cokley, Rail Passengers Association

Employee recognition is defined as the timely, informal or formal acknowledgement of a person’s or team’s behavior, effort or business result that supports the organization’s goals and values, and which has clearly been beyond normal expectations. When employees and their work are valued, their satisfaction and productivity rises, and they are motivated to maintain or improve their good work.

I hear from members all the time offering feedback on everything from the new dining options to OTP to mechanical/equipment failures. I also receive complaints about rude employees who do not represent Amtrak well. BUT, I also hear about employees who are so very dedicated to their jobs and who provide outstanding customer service while dealing with late and broken trains and difficult passengers. It’s those employees who give us a reason to repeat ridership and continue to support Amtrak through all its transitions.

As Director of the Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee (ACAC), my favorite duty is recognizing Amtrak employees who provide outstanding customer service. Nominations are submitted by traveling ACAC members and then vetted by Amtrak managers. Yesterday, I had the very distinct pleasure to present Amtrak Sleeping Car Attendant, Train 48/49, Carlos Aguilar with the December 2018 ACAC Customer Service Award. As always, it is so rewarding to see how much joy and pride this award brings to not only the employee, but also to the manager(s), coworkers and family members who attend. The OBS Manager who enthusiastically endorsed the nomination, Ms. Linda Anderson jumped at the opportunity to have the 4th employee under her tutelage receive the ACAC award. His co-workers all spoke about the pride they have in working beside him and confessed that they all have stolen a customer service tip or two from him over the years.

I often get questions on the best way to recognize Amtrak employees. So, while in the presence of 3 OBS Managers yesterday, I asked the question and Linda and Nigel responded, “call 1-800-USA-RAIL and give them the following information: your PNR/Reservation Number, the employee’s name (first, last or both) and a brief description of what service the employee provided”. I am aware of the changes impacting the Riverside Call Center right now, but for the moment, 1-800-USA-RAIL remains the best way to recognize the performance, good or bad, of Amtrak employees. Both managers assured me that they receive passenger recognition for their employees on a regular basis. By going directly through Amtrak’s system you ensure that the recognition goes directly to the manager and becomes a permanent part of the employee’s working personnel file and to Labor Relations. A little recognition goes a long way.