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Chief’s Corner - March Excellent Customer Service

Chiefs Corner

Portrait of Chief Master Sgt. Patrick Hughes

McLaughlin Air National Guard Base, W.Va. --

Some of us are old enough to remember full-service gas stations. The type that as you pulled in someone came to your window to ask, “how can I help you today?” They would pump your gas, check your oil, clean your windshield, check your tire pressure, accept your money and bring you your change; you never had to leave your car!

So what does that have to do with us today? Well, it’s an example of how personal life used to be; the good old days when customer service was a personal experience, so to speak. When customer service was not automated, and people really worked hard to satisfy their customers in person. It was a time when people took pride in providing excellent service and good was never GOOD enough! Their reputations were built from it and they wore it as a badge of honor in the community. This is important to us because, realize it or not, we are all in the customer service business and we need to get back to customer service basics.

Let's say I’m an aircraft mechanic, my customer is the person that flies the aircraft. Without excellent customer service from me, their plane does not leave the ground! If you’re waiting to go to basic training and your security clearance package is not sent or Recruiting and Force Support does not work together to get you processed, you do not go anywhere! Is that acceptable to you if you are the one waiting to go? Of course not! What if helping those people was your job, you would do everything in your power to make sure they got the best service you could give, right? Hopefully your answer was “yes.”

Those are just a couple examples of customer service in the Air Force. Everyone is in the customer service business and should approach their duties with that mindset. Customer service is our most important job and we need to be good at it! How do we do that? First and foremost, we start by caring. Care that your job is done to the very best of your ability every day! For instance, have you ever been to a doctor’s office for tests and you are terrified? The doctor tells you not to worry and they’ll notify you of the results as soon as they get them. In the meantime, the results come back to the doctor’s office in two days, but three weeks later you still haven’t heard from them; now you are beyond terrified to hear the results, but you suck it up and call them anyway. Once the office answers, they put you on hold for a minute (but it seems like an hour), then they come back on and say “yep, you’re all clear, the result were negative”. Relieved and confused you ask how long they’ve known the results and their response is “um…not real sure, a week or so maybe, sorry about that…” how does that attitude make you feel? “How could they do that to someone?” you ask yourself. Truth is, they did not care enough about you and what you were going through to follow up with you.

Bottom line is this, care about your customers and trying to make your processes better every day. Care about being an expert in your career field. Care about the people you are helping and communicate information, whether good or bad, with them during the process and do not make them wait. Caring about personal customer service worked in the good old days and it still works today. Automation is a good enhancement to excellent customer service, not a replacement for personal interaction. Caring about the quality of customer service will absolutely make a difference in productivity and performance in any environment.

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