Take care of your 'customers for life'

  • Published
  • By Major Frank Verdugo
  • 49th Fighter Wing Comptroller Squadron commander
One thing that the Air Force and commercial world have in common is the need for excellence in customer service. More often than not, that simple factor marks the difference between success and failure.

Consider the experience of shopping for a pair of shoes at a high-end department store versus a discount store. Oftentimes the merchandise is similar, if not identical, but customers are willing to pay a premium.


From a greeting upon entering the store, to a "Thank you and have a nice day," farewell, it's outstanding cradle-to-grave customer service that brings customers in and keeps them coming back.

But, customer service doesn't end there. Consider a customer service clerk going out of their way to call another store to look for a product, treating a customer nicely when they return an item, demonstrating excellent customer relations. For a department store, this type of service results in more profit and a customer for life.

With the exception of services activities, the Air Force usually doesn't deal in terms of profit. We do, however, have customers for life, so we better take good care of them.
But how do we provide excellent customer service? I believe we should ask ourselves a simple question and treat customers accordingly: "How would I want to be serviced if I was the customer?"

If I were working on my own travel voucher, would I take extra time to ensure the information was entered into the accounting system correctly? Would I open the office a few minutes early if I were waiting outside? Would I stay late to provide customer service if I arrived two minutes after "closing time?"

The next few years will be challenging as the Air Force expects to lose 40,000 members. During this time, we will need to pay particular attention to ensure our customer service doesn't suffer.

How do we do this? For starters, customers should fill out comment cards or customer surveys. The chain of command cares about the services you receive and uses this information to foster improvement. But don't just give feedback when you've had a bad experience - we want to hear from you when we're doing a good job. Excellence should be rewarded, so help us recognize deserving staff members.

Also, Brig. Gen. David Goldfein, 49 Fighter Wing commander, has scheduled an upcoming quality of life initiative, the 49 Fighter Wing Customer College, as an opportunity to establish a "Holloman" standard for customer service. By attending the Customer College, we can learn and apply key concepts which will move Holloman closer to being the "Friendliest Place on Earth."

The bottom line is that we should never provide anything less than excellent service to our "customers for life." Customer feedback and taking advantage of training opportunities will ensure we attain the highest customer service standard.

The Army Air Forces Exchange Service motto says it best - we really are "the best customers in the world." We should go out of our way to treat each other as such all the time.