Fort Drum customer service team named best DEERS / RAPIDS site in the Army

By Mrs. Melody Everly (Drum)December 3, 2015

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FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- A team from the Personnel Processing Branch, whose work impacts nearly every individual living and working on the installation, was recently recognized for their dedication to excellence.

Phil Hemminger, Personnel Processing Branch chief, said that he and his team at the Fort Drum Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System and Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification System office were notified this fall that their diligent efforts had been noted by the Army.

"On Oct. 23, we had been notified by the Army DEERS project office at Fort Knox, Ky., that we were among six facilities -- out of 516 in the active Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard -- that had met initial screening criteria to represent the Army for Defense Manpower Data Center Site of the Year," he said.

The staff members, consisting of two Department of Army Civilians and four contract employees, service the more than 150,000 eligible beneficiaries throughout their region of support, which includes eastern Canada, New York and the northern regions of Vermont, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

To determine which installation would receive the highest honor, the Army prescreened each of the top six installations. Determinations were made based upon criteria such as the amount of employee training completed at each installation, service usage rates and hardware and material management.

On Nov. 20, the Fort Drum DEERS / ID Card Section received official notification that they had been chosen as the Army's best. Col. Bryan J. Laske, garrison commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Kristopher L. Cook, garrison senior enlisted adviser, visited the office to formally announce the results and congratulate the staff.

Hemminger said that he believes several factors set the Fort Drum section apart from other sections within the Army.

With an average wait time of under seven minutes, the team serviced more than 19,000 customers in fiscal year 2015, with a customer satisfaction rating of 99.96 percent.

"This is directly attributable to the highly trained and friendly staff that treats each customer like family and strives to clearly communicate everything that the customer needs to know for a quick and successful appointment," he said.

In addition to highly competent staff, Hemminger said there are other tools that Fort Drum employs to ensure efficiency -- saving time for Soldiers, Family Members and Civilians using their services.

"One of our handiest communication techniques is that our facility has a link on the Fort Drum homepage," he said.

On the site, customers can review frequently asked questions and gather all of the information they need, including which forms are required at the time of their appointment. There is also an option for site users to make an appointment online.

An automated phone system with detailed answers to typical customer questions adds another element of efficiency, Hemminger said.

"This system reduced the volume of calls fielded by our reception desk by 75 percent," he said.

These time-saving tools allow reception staff to greet customers arriving for their appointments and assist individuals with some DEERS / ID card tasks in times of high customer volume.

Hemminger said that he was excited but not surprised when he found out that his team had won at the Department of the Army level.

"The essence of why we have jobs here in the Military Personnel Division is to provide world-class services and support to Soldiers, Families, retirees and DA Civilians," he said. "The recognition as 'Army Site of the Year' is validation that the team is doing just that."

The Fort Drum team will advance to the next level, representing the Army in competing for the Department of Defense DMDC award.

While Hemminger has confidence that his team will take home the title of best in the Department of Defense, he said he and his staff will remain focused on their primary goal.

"We will keep making improvements to what we already have," he said. "Awards or not, our goal is to provide the customers the best service possible."