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NEWS | Dec. 4, 2009

Customer service is not a department

By Col. Scott Turner Presidential Airlift Group commander

This past week we celebrated Veterans Day. While Memorial Day honors the memory of our fallen soldiers, on Veterans Day we honor the service of all of our military veterans. The freedom we take for granted has been paid for by the sacrifices made by our veterans.

Sacrifice describes selfless good deeds accomplished for the benefit of others. These sacrifices take many forms. The Fort Hood shootings reminded all that, sadly, some make the ultimate sacrifice. We witnessed that Soldiers don't need to be on the front lines to have their actions counted as sacrifice. Thankfully, most of our daily routines do not place us in harm's way. For most of us, the largest sacrifice demanded of us is to serve our fellow Airmen.

That service is usually in some form of customer service. Everyone at Joint Team Andrews is in the customer service business. Whether your job is to fly the vice president; keep the aircrew healthy; maintain the jet; secure the base; process travel vouchers; issue ID cards or accomplish any of the hundreds of functions that take place each day at Andrews, you are surrounded by customer service.

The success of Joint Team Andrews depends on each of us doing our jobs to the best of our ability. It depends on our treating each other with respect. It depends on each of us 'sacrificing' for the benefit of others. How many times have you gone into a store, and due to an employee's willingness to help, your experience was shorter than you had expected? That employee's selfless actions placed valuable time back into your pocket; time that you can use for yourself. Now imagine if each individual you interacted with during the day was as helpful as that store employee. Think of the extra time you would have to do the things you like to do for yourself and your family.

Customer service is not a department, it is an attitude. Don't focus on the service you provide as customer 'service' - think instead of it as customer 'helping'. This 'helping' starts with respect. If you respect those that you serve as human beings, truly honor their right to be treated fairly and honestly, then your task becomes that much easier. If each of us were to go an extra mile with the customers we serve, their lives would be altered in a positive way.

Though not on the front lines, we aren't on the sidelines either, as the mission we support each and every day is in the headlines. At home, we aren't asked to make the same sacrifices as those in the combat zones. That doesn't mean that sacrifices shouldn't be expected from us. The motto of the 89th Airlift Wing SAM FOX members embodies this type of sacrifice. It stands for going that extra mile for our customers; it stands for personal sacrifice so that our Nation's leaders can conduct their business; it stands for selfless acts taken to better others' lives, not so that we can share the spotlight.

As I go about my business every day, I see great people doing great things all over Joint Base Andrews. It is very easy for each of us to get caught up in our own little world. My challenge to you is to resist that urge; to remember the store clerk who gives that little bit extra for others. Who knows? You might just be his next customer.