"Customer service" or can't support"?

  • Published
  • By Col. Greg Touhill
  • 81st Training Wing commander
When I was a Communications Squadron commander, I used to point to the initials "CS" on our unit ball caps and tell my squadron mates that the CS stood for "Customer Service" not "Can't Support." 

My squadron mates embraced that attitude of customer service and we soon became the best squadron on base because our customers told us we delivered great support and we were always trying to do better. Customer service was at the heart of everything we did and we were proud of it. 

Customer service will make or break your unit. There is a story going around about a older couple, dressed in very modest clothes, who came to Harvard University seeking to make a gift to the university. They visited the president of the university, who looked down his nose at the appearance and relative lack of education of his visitors. When he asked what they wanted at Harvard, the gentleman said they wanted to have a building built as a gift to the university in honor of their son. The president scoffed at them and told them how much it would cost and said they could not afford it, so Leland Stanford allegedly turned to his wife and said they could start their own university. Now, this story is probably urban legend (meaning it isn't true), yet it points out the importance of being focused on your customer. 

Are you focused on your customer? Do you rise to greet them when they enter your office? Do you say please and thank you? Are you looking for ways to make your process easier for you or your customer? Are your service hours convenient for the customer? Are your customers waiting a long time to be served? Are your work orders being processed in a timely manner? Are you giving your customers feedback to keep them informed on how you are serving them? Are you asking your customers for feedback on how you can do better? If you are making your job easier and your customer's life more difficult or inconvenienced, you aren't focusing on the right things. 

Here at Keesler, we have examples of great customer service...and, unfortunately, some exceptionally bad examples too. Here's an example of GREAT customer service: on Saturday, 21 Jun, one of our lodging employees, Ms Cynthia Franklin, found over $1,000 in a room. She reported the find and the lodging managers mobilized to track down the lodging guest who left the money in the room. The guest returned and rewarded Ms Franklin with $100. That is great customer service ... having the integrity to do the right thing for a customer, looking out for a fellow Airman, and being a great wingman. 

Now is a great time to fine-tune our customer service attitude and delivery. It is a cornerstone of our core values of "Service Before Self" and "Excellence in All We Do" and is a key to success. Let's all follow Ms. Franklin's lead and rebuild our commitment to customer service and to serve others. We can make Keesler AFB the best in the Air Force and it all starts with an attitude of customer service, not can't support. What's your attitude?