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Personnel center improves customer support.

An individual mobilization augmentee needs copies of her performance reports. A retiree moves and needs to update the address in his personnel records. An Air National Guard member loses his 20-year service letter and needs a new one.

Last year each one of these scenarios would have required the individual involved to call the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver and spend five to 10 minutes on the phone talking to a customer service representative to get the problem solved.

Not anymore. The way ARPC handles customer support issues began to change last November when a team of employees began identifying processes that could be automated or centralized within the facility's Contact Center.

Led by Maj. Doug Ottinger, and working with no additional funding, the team identified a number of personnel services that could be provided to customers in a "self-service" manner using ARPC's Web site.

In addition, members can now go online and submit their questions to ARPC. The Web-based service directs customers to input all of the information necessary to allow customer service representatives to provide answers.

"We used to use e-mail, but we'd be going back and forth with customers to make sure they had all their information," Major Ottinger said. "With Web requests, the system guides customers through the process, provides immediate confirmation (via e-mail) that we received the request and automatically assigns an issue management number for future reference."

In addition to the recent self-service enhancements, customers can now go to the Contact Center customer service reps for assistance in processing foreign language proficiency pay, Montgomery GI Bill for Selected Reserve requests, academic verifications, Community College of the Air Force actions, Tricare Reserve Select enrollments and tuition assistance program requests. These were all services previously provided by one or two people within ARPC. Now, anyone within the Contact Center is able to provide them.

"Moving these kinds of services to the Contact Center is really helping to change people's perceptions of our customer service reps.... they are not telephone operators," Major Ottinger said. "We're now providing services that used to be provided by a small group of people spread throughout the building."

The transformation is not complete either. The goal, Major Ottinger said, is to bring as many "front-line" personnel services from throughout ARPC and the Reserve into the Contact Center or onto the Web.

Soon to be fully automated are the 20-year service letters, which give members certain rights and privileges until they reach 60 years of age, and retirement pay estimate letters, which were previously processed solely by ARPC's Retirements Branch.

"We (ARPC) are on the leading edge of the Air Force's vision for personnel service delivery," said Col. Jim Playford, ARPC commander. "Just as many of our private sector service providers have already transformed, the Air Force personnel community must transform the way it delivers services to make the best use of our most valuable resource--Airmen." (Mike Molina, ARPC)
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Title Annotation:Round the Reserve: A brief look at what's happening throughout Air Force Reserve Command
Author:Molina, Mike
Publication:Citizen Airman
Date:Aug 1, 2005
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