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Monroe launches innovative customer comment program

Monroe launches innovative customer comment program

Source: By Patrick Buffett for Casemate, October 2004

Fort Monroe has become the Northeast Region’s test site for an innovative, DoD-driven customer comment system that promises easy access via the web and simple navigation for its users.

Known simply as ICE – the acronym for Interactive Customer Evaluation (system) – the user-friendly program was activated here Oct. 1. “It replaced the yellow comment card we’ve used locally for several years,” said Joel Carnahan, project manager with the Office of Plans, Analysis and Integration.

The link to ICE can be found on the Fort Monroe homepage … just look for the logo created by our own Shae Inglin, a marketing specialist with the Directorate of Community and Family Activities. “ICEboxes,” for handwritten comment cards, have also been placed at seven locations on post where immediate internet access is not available, such as the Marina, Craven Clinic and the Outdoor Recreation building.

“I think the community will truly appreciate this new system,” Carnahan said. “One of the most exciting aspects is how easy it is to use, followed by the continued convenience of being able to access it from any location with an internet connection. And the response time, in comparison to our previous comment card, will be much faster.”

While the earlier version of Monroe’s comment card system was partially automated, it relied more heavily on handwritten evaluations placed in drop boxes throughout post. Depending on workload, off-duty days, and a number of other factors, it could take as long as a week to 10 days for the old cards to be picked up and processed manually, Carnahan explained.

“We anticipate a lot more online comments once our customers are educated about the new system,” he said. “That will cut our response time way down. The appropriate facility director and command staff members will see the comment, compliment or complaint in minutes versus days in some cases. If the customer has requested a reply, then they should see some sort of response in no more than seven calendar days.”

Offering a quick tour of ICE, Carnahan pointed out key features like the interactive map on the opening page, which helps the user zero in on the correct installation. A subsequent page lists community life areas like recreation, family support, finance and housing.

“Say you had a comment about the pool, which obviously falls under recreation,” Carnahan said while simultaneously clicking two links that took him to the actual customer comment form before he even finished his sentence. “Each form allows you to rate the facility in six different areas like appearance and employee attitude. And it provides space for written comments, just like the old comment card.”

As always, customers are given the option of remaining anonymous when submitting their comment, Carnahan noted. Customers can request feedback by checking the ‘response requested’ block on their comment submission. If no name or address is provided, however, it stands to reason that direct feedback to the customer is impossible.

In the long run, ICE will also provide important trend data to facility directors and strategic planners at Fort Monroe. “The old customer comment system didn’t really have a good tracking mechanism,” said Cliff Whitehouse, chief of the analysis and integration office. “We’ve never had a completely clear picture of how our customer service organizations were performing over the long run or if a particular problem was a one-time concern or a continuing trend. ICE has a mechanism for providing that data.

“It’s going to help us make better educated decisions about community life programs and issues,” Whitehouse added. “It’s an empowerment tool, and the Fort Monroe Soldier, civilian and family member will be the beneficiary.”

Frequent military travelers will also discover another important benefit of ICE, which is currently in use at 261 other Army installations. Users can comment on any facility at any U.S. installation in the world that uses the system.

“You may come back from TDY and remember something about the food service or billeting that wasn’t quite right,” Carnahan said. “This system will allow you to offer that feedback. That in itself is an extremely powerful tool.”

While designed specifically for the military community, to include reservists and retirees, ICE can also be accessed by the general public. The goal, Carnahan noted, is input.

“We’ve entered a new era. Fort Monroe — like every other DoD installation I’m guessing — is seriously interested in the views of its customers, be they Soldiers, civilians, family members … whomever. We’re counting on you to help us make our services and programs even better.”

DoD has not made ICE a mandatory program but the Installation Management Agency is considering it. “ICE is also being used by the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, as well as the Pentagon and OSD agencies,” Carnahan said. “I’m encouraged by the amount of discussion that’s going on about the program, and I think it’s exciting that our community members will be among the first to use it.”


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