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Taking customer service to new heights!

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Hornitschek
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Commander
When Senior Master Sgt. Ronnie Tabor heard that Dan Cathy, president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, would be in town giving a free lecture on leadership, customer service and best business practices, he not only jumped at the chance to hear it, but in true leadership form, brought along several co-workers as well.

Sergeant Tabor, who's the flight chief for radiology with the 375th Medical Support Squadron, said he thought it'd be a great idea for his whole team to hear what this man had to say, given that Chick-fil-A is one of the strongest restaurants in the business ... and they were not disappointed.

He said Mr. Cathy presented numerous ideas for success such as "leaders go first, then develop your followers, and then let your followers become leaders." This model for grooming regional directors to store managers to employees has been key to providing standout customer service. For example, employees are known for their politeness with such phrases as "it was my pleasure to serve you today," which comes as a result of initial two-week training.

One of the highlights, said Sergeant Tabor, was that Mr. Cathy sent each store owner--1,500 of them--a shoe brush. This was to emphasize the point that they should symbolically clean the shoes of each customer--meaning get dirty and work hard to provide customer service, because it won't come from writing a memo about it.

For Sergeant Tabor, the outing with his teammates is inspiring him to pass it along in his own work center. From holding an in-house training session with his radiology team to incorporating many of Mr. Cathy's ideas and attitudes about customer service, he's hoping that his flight will find ways to improve their own level of customer service and leadership traits. He said he wants to find ways to go the extra mile for patient care the same way that Mr. Cathy has done with customer care.

I say three cheers for the initiative of Sergeant Tabor, and I know that kind of positive energy will literally "radiate" in his section. Providing superior support and service is a focus area for our wing and it's great to see people taking this to heart!

I've recently instituted a Customer Service Council to provide rapid feedback, develop ideas, and implement initiatives to enhance our customer service efforts while ensuring we have a system in place to reward excellent customer service. We've already started the recognition portion by highlighting our awesome customer service providers during my quarterly commander's calls.

With the help of Fred Pryor Incorporated, the wing also just completed its first in a series of customer service training sessions, which is specifically focused on improving communication skills; recognizing the impact of attitude, behaviors and perceptions; and learning techniques to assist in modeling appropriate responses to an event to affect a positive outcome for both the customer and our staff. Our goal is to make the customer feel important and leave satisfied no matter what agency they come in contact with.
In addition, we have already received a warm reception from our Scott area civic leaders to the idea of partnering with local businesses or municipal offices for an exchange of best customer service practices. There is much we can learn from our communities and business leaders, and I'm looking forward to seeing how we can engage with them in the exchanging of ideas and formulas for success.

I know many of you are also taking the initiative to provide superior service and support, and I'd like to hear about those efforts. To summarize, there's a quote I came across that says, "Customer service is a proactive attitude that can be summed up as: I care and I can do." I know we do, because I see it prominently displayed in AMC's Showcase Wing every day--keep up the great work!