Each year all state park employees participate in the Virginia State Park’s FOCUS for Excellence customer service training program. All new employees attend an extensive three hour class intended to arm them with the best customer service skills possible. Additionally, all employees periodically attend a refresher class and receive a monthly newsletter full of customer services tips and articles. Director Joe Elton likes to say “FOCUS for Excellence is not just a program, it’s the way we do business.”
Besides training our employees, we reward them for exceeding our guests’ expectations. While we award certificates, letters and lapel pins throughout the year, we also recognize one outstanding employee from each of the seven districts and our Richmond offices. An overall FOCUS for Excellence Employee of the Year Award is also presented to the employee who we feel best exemplifies what FOCUS is all about.
If you’d like to acknowledge one of our employees for their outstanding customer service skills, visit our website at www.virginiastateparks.gov and click on FOCUS for Excellence or complete a Your Comments Count Survey after a visit to one of our parks. Postcard forms are also available at each park.
This year’s FOCUS for Excellence Employee of the Year Award has been given to Stephanie Allen, Office Manager at Staunton River State Park. Stephanie was nominated by her park manager for her extraordinary efforts in handling guest registration.
The campground at Staunton River is not only small but has a limited number of each type of site. This often makes accommodating campers that wish to be together a difficult task. Stephanie has not only managed to accomplish this task but has done so in a way that has created many returning guests. While having a reservation only means that you will have a site when you arrive, Stephanie has done everything in her power to accommodate all special requests. This often means looking weeks ahead and calling guests to confirm a request, offering suggestions to the guests on how to accomplish the request, or simply offering an explanation of why we can’t honor the request and the best compromise that we will be able to offer.
Taking on this extra task is not always pleasant but she has realized the importance of it and made it a priority. All of her hard work in this endeavor has made Staunton River a second home to many guests who Stephanie knows by first name. She even remembers what type of camping equipment they have. Stephanie’s 2009 motto was “You unpack the car and we’ll do the rest” and she has held true to that saying.
Other outstanding FOCUS Employees for 2009 are:
District I – Sarah Hipple, Office Assistant, York River State Park
District II – Linda Rouse, Program Support Technician, Belle Isle State Park
District III – Ricardo Hoyos, Interpreter, Mason Neck State Park
District IV – Caroline Garmon, Park Ranger, Pocahontas State Park
District V – Emily Taylor, Housekeeper, Staunton River State Park
District VI – Gary Harris, Maintenance Ranger, Claytor Lake State Park
District VII – Pam Smith, PST, Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park
Richmond Offices – Raleigh Layne, Reservation Counselor, Reservation Center
Please join us in congratulating all of these outstanding employees!