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Houston Airports Welcome New Director of Customer Service


April 2, 2013

© Houston Airport System
Karen Ellis is the new Director of Customer Service for the Houston Airport System.
Ask Karen Ellis what phrase best describes her personality and there’s not a moment’s hesitation in her answer.

“I’m a people person,” she exclaims proudly, as she quickly makes her way through the terminal facilities at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). “I genuinely enjoy meeting new people and learning more about them as individuals.”

It’s a personality trait that will no doubt come in handy as Ellis looks to improve the overall travel experience for millions of passengers as the new director of customer service for the Houston Airport System (HAS).

“Houston is a city that’s known throughout the world for its vibrant energy and warm, friendly atmosphere,” Ellis says. “Our airports have to reflect those same positive traits and my job as Director of Customer Service is to empower our team members with the ability to create that positive experience on a consistent basis.”

For Ellis, that challenge will be met in three separate locations, each of them representing very unique and distinct operations. All three of the HAS airport facilities fall under her purview; George Bush Intercontinental Airport, William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) and Ellington Airport (EFD).

Fortunately, Ellis comes to Houston bringing with her a great deal of experience in tackling large, complex airport operations. As the senior customer service manager at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL), Ellis implemented an airport-wide customer service training initiative at the world’s busiest airport. In that same position, she also spearheaded the revitalization of an employee recognition program, which helped to create a spirit of positive reinforcement and dramatically improve the overall customer experience at ATL.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport handles more than 90 million passengers on an annual basis and Ellis says the experience that she gained from her previous position will definitely help her in addressing the complexities associated with the HAS operations. But she’s also quick to point out that she does not believe in “cookie cutter” answers to questions related to customer service.

“I think any successful program represents a balancing act,” Ellis says. “I am definitely coming into this position with a core set of values in mind and those values will most definitely make up the foundation of our future programs. But at the same time, each market and each airport is unique in nature and it requires its own individual assessment.”

Passengers in Houston will be happy to know that the scholastic and work history of Ellis provides her with impeccable training in making those assessments and implementing those programs. She holds a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management from Troy State University and a Bachelor of Science Degree from Jackson State University. Ellis has served as the past president of the International Customer Service Association – Georgia Chapter. She also serves as the chair for the training committee for the American Association of Airport Executives. 
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