Advancing Customer Excellence in 2010

From the Business Transformation Office

06/07/2010  |  Barbara Kent Office of Strategic Initiatives
From the Business Transformation Office

I am crossing my fingers that the Griffon and this article will be published prior to the Command’s fulltime conference as an introduction to the Chief Executive Officers Command Customer Service Initiative. (If not, please continue to read anyway!)

As our Command continues to march forward as a high performance organization, a critical area that senior leadership is assessing is our customer service, both internal and external.  Our external customers are those that the Command (as one entity) provide services and support to that drive our mission.  Our PRIMARY external customers are TRADOC and Accessions’ Command. 

Our internal customers are those within our Command that use any of our products or services.   If you’re thinking that this could be anyone in our Command, you’re wrong.  If you’re thinking that this is EVERYONE in our Command, you’re right on target.  Often, employees misconceive that “Soldiers are not customers.”   The assumption can be that they are paid for a service that they deliver and therefore, must settle with average.  Here’s the wakeup call – the key benefit of being a customer is that the customer can go to another competitor.  Can our Soldiers and other employees go work for a competitor? Absolutely!

“Our Success is built on a foundation of shared values and commitment to excellence – We are a customer-driven organization that is focused on creating value for our customers, partners, and stakeholders.”   —   Excerpt from the 108th Training
Command Value Statement

In realizing that both our internal and external customers can leave us for our competitors, it’s important for our organization to not just deliver above average customer service, but to WOW! our customers in a proactive effort to retain them as well as recruit new customers.

A WOW! Customer service example that I experienced recently was from Mr. Lou Shaver, 108th Training Command (IET) G-3 Budget Analyst.  Lou is also temporarily assigned to our family readiness section.  A co-worker and I were working on a budget for a G-1 process when Lou observed us initially scratching our heads and then later, banging them on the whiteboard.  Noticing that we were struggling with some information, he selflessly gave us an hour of his valuable time. His customer service was sharing his subject matter expertise with us when he could have simply walked on by and tended to his own work. WOW!  Thank you Lou!

My challenge to every employee in our Command is to think, know, and act on these five customer service questions:

  1. Do you know who your customers are (both internally and externally)?
  2. Do you really know who your customers are?
  3. Do you WOW! any of your customers?
  4. If you do WOW! any of them, how do you know?
  5. What is one thing you can do to improve your customer service?

I leave you thinking with a few words of Barbara Glanz, “Great customer service has to come from the inside out.  You cannot mandate it.  You can’t threaten, reward, or coerce people to care.  You can only awaken the desire and then give them the permission and encouragement to make it come alive in their work.”

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