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All customers deserve world-class service and support

by Lt. Col. Philip Greco
6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander

Quick, think of an interaction you, as a customer, had with someone at a base agency here at MacDill that pleased you. Now, think of another one with the same or a different person/base agency that left you dissatisfied or angry. What was it about the latter that didn't meet your expectations? Think about how it made you feel. Which experience would you rather have? Since everyone on this base is a customer in one capacity or another, I think we all need to consider the importance of providing world class customer service in our workplaces.

When discussing customer service in the context of a military environment, it's important to understand the connection between customer service and our individual units' mission statements. In fact, I think they are one in the same. The mission of every squadron on MacDill, and the 6th Air Mobility Wing itself, is to provide some kind of "service" to a customer. That customer could be an individual processing a travel voucher at finance; in this case the service is timely payment of expenses for a TDY. The customer could also be a warfighting commander prosecuting the global war on terrorism; here the customer expects responsive and effective air mobility support. At whatever level, flight, squadron or wing, providing customer service is at the very core of your unit's mission.

In addition to being key to our individual unit mission, customer service fully embraces our Air Force core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. World Class customer service rests on the foundation of these core values.

Integrity first. I would argue that it's almost impossible to provide superb customer service without this. It is the willingness to do what is right even when no one is looking. An important aspect of integrity is accountability. Accountability demands that we don't try to shift the blame to others or take credit for the work of others; "the buck stops here" says it best. In order to be accountable, we have to take ownership. We have to make it our responsibility to ensure the customer's needs are met. With all the personnel cutbacks and mission growth the Air Force has experienced over the last decade, you can bet if you don't get it right, there probably won't be someone to follow up behind you to fix it.

Service before self. Our all volunteer force is founded upon the premise of service before self. As members of the profession of arms, we are entrusted with the security of our nation and the protection of our citizens. By its very nature, this core value requires us to put the needs of others (i.e. our customers) before our own.

Excellence in all we do. This obliges us to focus on providing services and generating products that fully respond to customer wants and anticipate customer needs. It means we should do things the right way, the first time, every time. Many of our individual specialties are highly technical (flying and fixing aircraft) and errors have serious consequences. Errors in less technical career fields also can have severe costs (what would be the impact if your records were lost before a promotion board?) Think about yourself as a customer, and how much you would want the service provided to you to be "excellent."

Our wing, indeed our Air Force, is a team made up of customers and service providers, and we all fill each role at different times. Each of us has a key part to play, and we are here to serve our customers. If those customers we and our organizations serve didn't exist, whether it be an F-15 pilot needing gas for their jet or a retiree needing an ID card, there would be no need for any of us to be here.

So the next time you provide a service make sure it meets the world class standards you would expect and we have set in the Wing and the Air Force as professional Airmen. It's really up to you.

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