Meet Our New Customer Experience Manager

Walter Dodson

Since summer 2018, Walter Dodson has led the CUIMC Facilities Customer Service Center as the customer experience manager. The Customer Service Center fields phone calls, emails, and walk-ins for requests related to Facilities services and spaces across Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Can you tell me about the journey that led you here?
I’ve been in customer service management for about 16 years. I come from a health-care background and have worked with large health-care organizations, including Emblem Health, Visiting Nurse Service of New York, Metropolitan Jewish Health Systems, and Ryan Health. I’ve also worked for the Cohen Group, which is the parent company for Cohen’s Fashion Optical and General Vision Services as a customer service supervisor as well.

What is your customer service philosophy?
We want to make you, the customer, happy.

At the medical center, our goal is to offer world-class customer service. We’ve recently completed some customer service training, which we are very excited about. We acknowledge that the job isn’t easy and we want to give our customer service representatives the skill set to handle the range of concerns our customers have. Whether it be setting up an appointment for a custodian to set up tables for an event or for an engineer to adjust the temperature, or maybe ushering along a work order for a project, we want to take our service to the next level.

What is the most striking difference you’ve noticed as you’ve transitioned from health care to facilities?
Being a customer service representative for Facilities is very different from most customer service roles, in which once a phone call has ended, the a customer’s questions have been resolved. Not only does our team answer emails, calls, and take walk-ins and update work orders in our system, they also regularly communicate with the various teams performing the work in-person and over walkie-talkie. For example, if a lab is experiencing a temperature instability issue, they know to dispatch the work immediately via walkie-talkie. We have to protect the quality of the research, which is a core aspect of the work being done at the medical center.

Urgent situations can happen frequently and unexpectedly and throw a monkey wrench into the daily routine. The efficiency with which the Customer Service Center handles this goes a long way toward being able to deliver good service. Being able to switch gears the way they do is incredible. I tip my hat to them.

You are the first person to hold the role of customer experience manager. Why was your role created, and how do you fit into the Customer Service Center?
On any given day, members of Facilities will be knee-deep in 50 different things. I’m talking about our engineers, custodians, fire safety and compliance team, and project managers. Not only are they dealing with day-to-day things, they also support maintenance-related shutdowns and major projects, such as the recent Alumni Auditorium and Schaefer Awards gallery renovation and now the 2018-19 Research Renovation Initiative. Leadership realized that in order to continue to advance our mission, the Facilities team needed someone whose primary focus is to be a champion for our customers.

I am here to be the “glue person” for all of the different facets of the Facilities team, to hold all those pieces together and elevate our customer service. One of the keys to providing good service is being proactive. So although I occasionally jump on the phones with the Customer Service Center, I am often out representing our team and meeting our users around the campus. I want to create as direct a line of communication with our customers as possible. In addition to addressing your needs, we want to make your experience with CUIMC Facilities Management a pleasant one.

At the end of the day, what makes you feel like your team has done well?
As both their manager and their coworker, what I enjoy the most is seeing compliments come through for the team. If it’s a job or task, or related to their growth and development, these kind words boost their spirit and energy.

What three words would you use to describe the team?
Eager to serve.

When should someone contact you?
If something didn’t happen quite the way you hoped, or if you are unsure of where to go for your Facilities-related issue or request, I want you to feel like you can reach out to me. If you have questions or feedback about the Customer Service Center team, please feel free to reach out. So far, I’ve met with many of our busier customers on campus, and I look forward to continuing to meet members of our community.

You can contact Walter Dodson, customer experience manager, at