When Gary Bier began working in the Transit Information Center, his trip planning tools included a large wall map, a tape measure and a robust memory.
“If you were taking 20 calls a day you were really cooking,” Bier said recently. “Each of those calls could take 30 to 40 minutes.”
Bier and his fellow TIC representatives are able to help customers a lot more efficiently these days. Using online resources, representatives can plan trips in a matter of minutes and handle up to 200 calls a day. (Despite a growing amount of online information, TIC representatives still collectively take more than 1 million calls a year.)
While times have changed, Bier’s devotion to the job has not. On Nov. 26, Bier will celebrate 35 years of service, making him the longest-tenured TIC representative in Metro Transit history. He has handled an estimated 1.26 million calls since he began more than three decades ago.
Impressive as the cumulative total is, Bier is demure when asked to reflect on all the customers he’s helped along the way. “I don’t really think about it,” said Bier, who has no immediate plans to retire. “I just do what I need to do.”
The institutional knowledge goes a long way, though. In 1999, Bier stepped into a leadership position and began coaching new TIC representatives. As a coach, he listens in on calls and provides advice as representatives build the confidence they need to succeed. Beyond the practical tools he teaches, Bier stresses patience and understanding.
A level head and the simple pleasure of helping customers find their way, he said, is what keeps him going after all these years.
“I could imagine myself doing something else, I just couldn’t see myself enjoying it as much or doing it as long,” he said. “I feel really satisfied knowing that I’ve helped someone get from point A to B.”
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