Continuing a customer service focus

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Why do we have a great dining or shopping experience only to have a mediocre encounter the next time? If one dissects the distinction between the good versus bad experiences, the key probably lies in what type of customer service was received. So, what is it that we can do to deliver world-class quality customer service?

In our age of ever evolving technologies, many jobs once done by people are now manned by computers. While this speeds up efficiency, it can actually slow down communication. How many minutes are wasted listening to a telephone prompt, only to find the question one has is not covered by a number button to press? Be it a blessing or a curse, automation is here to stay. This makes any actual human contact, be it in person or over the phone, that much more significant.

Any field that is service oriented must understand that the customer or patient comes first. This does not automatically mean they are "right," it means they should be respected. As humans, to feel important and to be acknowledged is meaningful. Who does not want to feel valued?

The duties of a job or the everyday stress of life can turn a person into a number. An opportunity to truly help a person in need can be passed up due to busyness or apathy. Too many times we encounter the attitude "it is not my job/responsibility" when seeking information or assistance. This negative first impression leaves a customer not only unsatisfied, but interrupts the mission from being accomplished. How much extra time does it really take to focus on the person and actually listen to what they are telling us?

First, leaders must empower their staff to do their very best - through actions, not words - in order to keep their customers happy and coming back. The workforce must learn to listen actively to customer concerns and complaints, taking into consideration that it may be an opportunity to learn and improve their own duty sections.

In our Air Force, we should not settle on mediocrity. Commitment towards listening and serving any customer, whether internally or externally, is what sets organizations apart from the rest. Team Aviano, regardless of your Air Force Specialty Code, we are all in the people business. Thank you for elevating your customer service to the next level.

"There are no traffic jams along the extra mile." -- Roger Staubach