By Michael Norris, Pentagram Assistant Editor May 10, 2013
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - The late New York City Mayor Ed Koch, an unpretentious sort who eschewed limousines and rode public transportation so he could mingle with his constituents, was known for the catchphrase, "How am I doing?" soliciting advice from the everyday people he represented. That's one means of getting feedback on essential services. Another method is to distribute customer comment forms which help to tabulate the level of customer satisfaction.
ICE, the Interactive Customer Evaluation program, helps service providers and service consumers improve government programs by establishing a dialogue between the two. This is achieved when the users of a particular service fill out a comment form that describes his or her experience dealing with an organization or program. It helps service providers determine whether customers' needs are being met.
The comment forms are available as printed cards and can be found in service provider offices, online at http://ice.disa.mil/index.cfm?fa=site6c6c122a1a11206582f77b978a771eb77f52c91106bfa2c6f716b1a9bce55342cf949e4034435e06dcd9413a0296b2f3268043a4471f75a9bb2b5d02cced9457site_id=356, or accessible via smart phones capable of scanning an organization's quick response code.
The forms allow customers to rate their experience with a service provider on a sliding scale by checking a box that indicates the level of performance one received in several different areas. The form also includes a section where customers can ask questions or leave comments.
The forms allow customers to comment on the good, the bad and the ugly. It can be used to single out an employee who went the extra mile, someone who only went through the motions or an individual who was unnecessarily gruff. A visitor might want to call attention to the inviting décor of an office or some missing brochures in a foyer literature rack. A key aspect of the program is that when criticism is called for, it should be constructive criticism. Rosalind Strickland, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Education Center education service officer, said the center has received 137 customer comments from October 2012 through May of this year. She said the program often informs her about things she already knows about, but sometime alerts her to concerns she is not aware of.
The comments are generally positive, she said, such as one customer citing an education center employee as being "extremely helpful" in answering questions about the benefits of the GI Bill. At other times, she added, customer comments have helped reinforce concerns she already had, such as when someone suggested an upgrade to the center's computer equipment.
Strickland said such comments, coming from the ground up, helped expedite the center getting newer equipment.
Steven Waters, a Directorate of Resource Management budget analyst, said DRM receives about 30 ICE customer comments a year. He said most of the comments he reviews tend to focus on the negative, sometimes without enough specificity for the directorate to respond and take action on them.
Waters said it would be nice if customers left more positive remarks, complimenting programs and personnel when it's deserved. "ICE is a very good tool that's not being used very well," he said.
Ocie Jacobs Pejcic, Morale, Welfare and Recreation marketing director, has reviewed customer comment forms for MWR in the past. She said the marketing office is trying to reinvigorate the ICE program by rolling out T-shirts, buttons and posters. A new slogan calls attention to the program acronym: "ICE is a cool way to let us know how we're doing."
"We want to show how it can be used for positive comments - a force for good," Pejcic said of ICE. "We want people to tell us when we miss a step [quality-wise], but people forget that we sometimes need a pat on the back."