Developing a Customer-Centric Culture at the Air Force Personnel Center
After leaders at the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) expressed concerns about persistent shortcomings in the quality of customer service at the Directorate of Civilian Force Integration (DPI), MarCom Group investigated and concluded that DPI personnel lacked full awareness and understanding of the responsibilities and steps that all personnel—senior leadership, management, supervisors, and employees—needed to take to produce top-quality customer service. Nor did they fully realize the benefits of doing so. To address this issue, MarCom Group recommended an innovative training solution, blending clarification of customer expectations, identification of key steps and measures for meeting those expectations, and the use of multiple team-based approaches.
We introduced a "customer-centric" approach that helps re-engineer inadequate service processes and fosters effective and efficient interactions between DPI work groups serving common internal and external customers.
Working directly with DPI leadership, MarCom Group and its subcontractor AchieveGlobal introduced the Customer-Centric Communications (CCC) concept in October 2011. This breakthrough customer service approach is designed to align job functions at every level—from Executive Leadership to Senior Management to front-line staff—with a clearly defined mission statement and, most importantly, with the needs and expectations identified as most important to the organization's customers.
The alignment or "Line of Sight" is critical to ensuring success when revising or revitalizing service processes. Another key aspect is the discipline of "Vision Cascading," which requires that all aspects of the CCC initiative be adopted, embraced, and transmitted from the highest levels of leadership to those on the front line who serve customers.
To ensure that the principles and concepts of CCC were introduced optimally and most cost effectively, and to afford the opportunity to incorporate "Lessons Learned," we implemented the program in two phases. Phase I introduced the program to 250 of the total DPI population of approximately1,000 employees. This group consisted of the entire Leadership team, a selected segment of managers and supervisors, and front-line staff that supported the designated work element of Request for Personnel Action (RPA).
Phase I included:
- A thorough Service Quality Assessment (via interviews, focus groups, and surveys) to understand customer expectations and provide baseline ratings of current service levels. This input was used throughout training sessions to provide concrete, relevant case studies and examples.
- Pilot Participants selected to ensure that training workshops included groups of employees delivering the same work product: processing RPAs. This activity was selected for its immediate relevance to the 80-Day Hiring Model mandate, as well as to help to initiate "real time" service solutions.
- Pre/Post-Training Assessment Surveys conducted with Pilot participants to provide baseline data on employee beliefs, attitudes, and expectations before and after training workshops.
- Senior Leadership Participation in a special session to define a new DPI Vision Statement, in order to ground all CCC efforts moving forward.
- Communications Vehicles (e.g., weekly email blasts) launched to motivate Pilot participants and reinforce key learning.
- Communications from the DPI Director at Key Milestones, to reinforce "Vision Cascading" messaging and demonstrate senior level buy-in and support for the top-to-bottom "Line of Sight" principle.
As a result of lessons learned in Phase I, several new learning modules have now been added, including additional training to help managers lead their respective work groups in re-engineering processes that are falling short of customer needs and expectations and to better identify and define needs/expectations moving forward.
With these and other lessons learned now fully incorporated, the updated Customer-Centric Communications program rolled out officially to all DPI staff in October 2012.
This initiative illustrates the positive results that can be gained by working closely with agency leadership to define goals and expectations and obtain top-to-bottom management and employee buy-in for new goals and business processes. It also illustrates MarCom Group's capability to manage a team involving a never-before-attempted innovative initiative to help a client accomplish service goals that had been unattainable in the past.