In a career built on public service, Marketing Manager Nicole Ramos understands and prioritizes our community’s needs, which is why the Board of Directors has recognized her as Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter.
Throughout Nicole’s 18-year career with Omnitrans, our rider’s needs for information and the way that it is delivered and consumed has evolved tremendously, most recently with the advent of social media and smartphones.
Last quarter, Nicole spearheaded a project that closed a gap in our customer communications: the lack of timely rider alert notifications in case of irregular bus detouring while in service. Working with her team and inter-departmentally with Planning, I.T., and Operations, a solution to the age-old problem was reached, at last.
“The rider alerts project had been in the works in some capacity for about three years,” recalls Nicole. “There were a few things we tried, however, there was no effective flow of information that stuck. We had many meetings with Operations and I.T. but could never come up with something that was realistic for everybody that didn’t require a lot more work.”
Determined not to let this task fall by the wayside, Nicole reached out to her network of transit agencies for potential solutions. While at a roundtable discussion with other mid-sized agencies the 2018 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Marketing & Communications Workshop, Nicole posed the question and peer agencies shared success stories of similar rider alert notification systems.
Nicole then determined that publishing alerts to a Twitter account using pre-made alert templates would be the most viable solution for all involved and absolve the agency of additional costs. During this time, the transit operations software used by our Dispatch team in Operations was updated to a new version that allowed detours logged internally to be published to a public-facing Twitter feed. The timing could not have been more perfect to explore this idea.
“The impending software update would allow dispatchers to create notifications almost automatically using the data entered to populate a template published on Twitter. All they had to do was hit a couple of extra buttons in their process. Because of its ease, we got the buy in from dispatch, which was key,” says Nicole.
“Marketing Specialist Jose Hernandez played an integral role in this project. After waiting on necessary system upgrades and fine tuning our alert templates with help from the Planning team to make this as seamless as possible, we were able to begin testing before going live. We certainly appreciate Operations department leadership and Dispatch Supervisor Christina Gaeta for adopting this and pushing the implementation forward.”
It took many months of problem-solving and work behind the scenes, but the rider alerts notification system is now up and running with a Twitter feed that lives embedded on our Alerts webpage. “Although small, this is an important step that brings us back to what we are supposed to be doing as an agency, which is better serving the customer,” says Nicole.
Additionally, Nicole played a major role in last fall’s American Bus Benchmarking Group (ABBG) Annual Meeting, during which Omnitrans hosted over 60 peers from the transit industry. Aside from overseeing hotel venue logistics, event photography, and attendee communications, Nicole also leveraged her existing community partnership with the Auto Club Speedway to lower costs associated with hosting an evening social networking mixer for attendees.
“Nicole contributed in many ways to ensure a successful meeting that projected a positive image of Omnitrans to peer agencies,” says Director of Marketing Wendy Williams. “The work Nicole put in exceeded her core responsibilities and required many extra hours outside of her regular schedule.”
As a recent graduate of the Leadership Development Academy, Nicole looks forward to the future, but reflects fondly on her years at Omnitrans.
“It’s been a great experience,” she says. “I get to do what I enjoy doing, but in a way that benefits the community at large. There’s stability and flexibility. Although sometimes you put in many extra hours, you are also encouraged and allowed time to have work-life balance. A lot of people who work here have done so for a long time, and that says something about the agency.”
“I appreciate working with and being able to lead a hard-working and creative team, and hopefully positively impact them as they move through their own careers.”