Customer satisfaction is one of the key indicators of the health and success of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, which operates as a nearly 100 percent cost-reimbursable organization. Getting feedback from customers more than once a year to better assess their satisfaction is the goal of a new customer comment card program launched at the end of April.
Huntsville Center customers can now simply click on the feedback link at the end of each program and project manager’s email signature block to give real-time feedback.
While Huntsville Center had a good response rate (42 percent) and overwhelmingly positive feedback (91 percent overall satisfaction) on the 2014 External Customer Survey conducted Oct. 29-Dec. 11, an end-of-year survey is not always the best indicator of how well the Center is performing to meet customer expectations, according to Charles Ford, Huntsville Center’s Programs Director.
“That’s just one snapshot in time; it might not accurately reflect customer opinions or satisfaction for a project that might have finished several months before,” he said.
Ford said he wants customers to be able to provide feedback immediately following an exchange with a project manager, a milestone achievement or completion of a project, or any time they have something they want to share with the Center – positive or negative.
The Interactive Customer Evaluation system, commonly called ICE, provided the convenient, user friendly, flexible tool to solicit immediate feedback from customers at the point of interaction, according to Ford. The web-based Department of Defense tool enables agencies to monitor the customer service satisfaction levels through reports and customer comments.
Using ICE, Huntsville Center’s Process Improvement and Survey Manager Carolyn Harris developed the short survey asking customers to rate Huntsville Center project managers on teamwork, communication, timeliness of service and overall satisfaction. There is also an optional field for customers to provide more detailed comments and/or recommendations for improvement.
“One good thing about the ICE program is that there is a follow-up response tool,” Harris said. “Customers simply check a box if they would like for someone to get back with them. In addition, there is a tab within the ICE system that enables each program’s ICE manager to record follow-up conversations and dates for full-circle reporting.”
All the programs currently use the same comment card format, but each program has a separate URL and its own service provider manager who monitors and tracks responses. Harris said as the program evolves she would like to tailor the comment card questions for each program to elicit even more specific feedback.
“Are we meeting customer needs and expectations?” Ford questioned. “These ICE comment cards are a great tool to help us determine that at every level of our organization.”
Just over a month into the program the more than two dozen customer comment cards received have all rated the Center’s service as excellent. Word of the customer comment card program is also spreading throughout the Corps. Both Ford and Harris have received calls from other USACE organizations interested in taking advantage of the Army’s ICE tool for immediate customer engagement.
“I think it’s critical for any organization – regardless of whether they are government or private, or who their customers are – to always have some sort of customer satisfaction measure in front of them when discussing the performance, health and service quality of the organization,” Ford said. “Customer satisfaction and return customers are part of the equation for success in our organization and USACE as a whole.”