SCHWEINFURT, Germany -- Many of the nearly 200 smiling faces who work in the USAG Schweinfurt Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR) have completed mandatory training on customer service, and the rest are well on the way.

"No matter how bad a day you're having, it can always get better when a customer walks through the door," said Jason Lawor, a library technician and graduate of the one-day Operation Excellence (OPEX) training for all DFMWR employees.

The attitude carries the day, said Nancy Sieber, DFMWR training coordinator and main instructor for both the employees' and managers' training.

"I think it's the attitude you choose to have," Sieber said, describing the potential flashpoint when a customer and service provider meet one another on a bad day.

"Either you're going to have a good day or you're not. And it's up to you to have a good day," she said.
The courses are fundamentally about obtaining - and retaining - customers in DFMWR facilities, Sieber said.

"The focus of the OPEX is to provide excellent customer service within our facilities, based on the fact that we are a business. Whether we are government-paid or not, we are still a business," she said.

Like many communities, the USAG Schweinfurt has a customer base with a lot on its mind, according to Sieber.

"We emphasize the fact that we're in a deployed state. And our employees have spouses who are deployed as well as our customers who have spouses who are deployed," she said, noting that such employees must deal with their personal tensions while attending to the customers'.

Training topics are different for the employees' and managers' sessions, but both courses remind the DFMWR team that they are just that - a team.

When assigning students to groups, Sieber deliberately breaks up "cliques" to capitalize on the diversity of services, a service providers, within the organization and to build strong teams.

"Because we're so diverse, I don't group them with their co-workers," Sieber said. "Everyone has someone different that they deal with."

The notion of interconnectivity among the employees - and customers - was not lost on Lawor, who believes the training should be required across the board.

"Everybody is somebody else's customer," he said. "Treat other people as you'd like to be treated."

Something else ties the USAG Schweinfurt employees together, Sieber said.

"The majority of them, I have found, enjoy their job. They enjoy the people in the community, and it makes them feel good if they can make a difference," she said.