Mastering the art of customer service through OPEX training

By Eric KowalJanuary 3, 2024

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - As a service provider organization, U.S. Army Garrison Picatinny Arsenal employees are committed to providing programs and services delivered with a sense of individual pride, professionalism, and in keeping with the spirit of U.S. Army values.

To advance that goal, garrison employees recently completed required annual Operation Excellence (OPEX) training mandated by the U.S. Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM).

The required training, separated in two different courses, (OPEX for Leaders and OPEX for Non-supervisory Staff) both consisted of four-hour, participation-based curriculum, held at Armament University.

“The in-person OPEX training was great because it reinforced Picatinny’ s commitment to IMCOM’s Service Culture principles in a team environment,” said Donald Landi Jr., and Engineering Technician in the Department of Public Works Business Operations and Integration Division.

“The role playing allowed me to get a better look at things from both sides and understand how good communication is key when dealing with a customers and co-workers,” Landi said.

Employees take a pledge to those they serve that they will:

-         Deliver quality products and services

-         Build relationships – with communities, with customers, and with each other

-         Be kind and respectful to those they serve

-         Conduct themselves professionally

-         Welcome and encourage feedback, communicate and listen

-         Provide neat, professional, and aesthetically pleasing facilities

-         Take ownership of actions

After defining what professionalism meant to them, the students were then required to develop a personalized action plan to help guide them in their path to service excellence.

The OPEX training is part of the Garrison’s Plans, Analysis, and Integration Office (PAIO) initiatives. One of its goals is to uphold and ensure the implementation of IMCOM’s customer and leadership pledges.

“Annual OPEX Refresher classes for both Leaders and Non-Supervisory Staff are designed to sharpen skills in IMCOM’s service culture and take care of our number one priority, people,” said Kathy Ferguson, a Plans Specialist in the PAIO who is the OPEX Facilitator for all Appropriated Funded (APF) garrison employees.

“The topic is different each year and this years’ focus is on Communication and Active Listening,” Ferguson continued. “Communication is an important component of our Service Culture Campaign and Active Listening can be pivotal when dealing with both internal and external customers as well as each other.”

IMCOM's Service Culture emphasizes leader and workforce engagement by providing new command team members with an impactful on-boarding program, employee recognition, communication, establishing a sense of pride in serving within IMCOM, and standardized customer service training implemented garrison wide. These foundations help support Soldiers and their Families in their contributions to the nation.

Faced with reduced resources - to include funding and personnel - IMCOM officials created a plan to ensure they could mitigate the impact of the challenges.

“It is imperative that the OPEX training either initial or refresher be completed to ensure personnel are reminded of the important role they have in providing customer service and professionalism within their workforce,” said Fortunato Rubio Jr., who oversees all civilian employees assigned to the command as the Deputy Garrison Commander. “This training helps deter complacency while reinforcing priorities, requirements and supporting Service Culture initiatives.”

OPEX is a successful, experiential learning program that follows the Army Learning Model and has been delivered to thousands of Non-appropriated Fund (NAF), primarily in the Family Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (FMWR) Directorates, and APF IMCOM employees.

OPEX training enables participants to:

-         Select delivery methods to uphold the IMCOM Pledge to our Customers

-         Employ effective strategies to resolve challenging situations with customers

-         Determine strategies to present professionalism when delivering customer service

-         Empower employees

-         Recognize employees

-         Adapt a leader communication style to accommodate team members

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL