The dog park, the blue line to graduation ceremonies, certain sidewalks and accessibility features on specific buildings — what do these things have in common? They are all results of the Interactive Customer Evaluation system.
Commonly referred to as ICE, the Department of Defense-wide online portal provides an outlet for feedback to those who interact with Fort Leonard Wood’s offices.
According to Mike Alley, ICE program coordinator, the more responses his office receives, the better services can be for installation customers.
“Let us know how we’re doing, good and bad,” he said. “Truthfully, we get many positive comments about the people who work here. People may not like the wait at the gate, but they definitely have their favorite guard. Certainly, if a customer is frustrated with a process, they should let (it) be known. And, if someone comes across as rude or unhelpful, we need to know that. Everyone has a bad day, but customers shouldn’t feel it.”
Comments received through ICE are presented as reports to U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood leadership on a regular basis. From there, Alley said, managers are contacted when appropriate.
“Changes in processes are initiated when it’s obvious we have a gap in services,” he said. “The leadership engages, so managers pay attention to the feedback they receive.”
Sgt. Maj. Cameron Regur, who recently served as the garrison interim command sergeant major, agreed that feedback is the biggest asset ICE delivers to the post.
“The community lets us see and hear what they want,” he said. “However, ICE is different from a typical comment card system in that it allows us to easily see trends and satisfaction rates for the organizations and individuals who receive an evaluation. The system lets us know how many satisfied and unsatisfied evaluations the agency has received over a given period of time. Through ICE, our community can truly provide ideas to make something better or just recognize our professionals who selflessly serve our Soldiers and families every day.”
While ICE is not meant for internal comments — meaning reviews from employees about their own offices — discontent with policy and procedure can impact customer service anyway, Alley said.
He offered examples of the improvements that have come from ICE suggestions.
“Ozark Tavern had a rough start, but the customer feedback helped reshape their services,” Alley said. “Each dining facility has QR code signs on the cadre tables, and we get great, and mostly positive, feedback there. We also know when the salad bar has been poorly stocked, and that feedback is real-time.”
COVID-19 has increased the number of incoming suggestions and comments, and technology has helped management make administrative decisions based on patterns they see, he said.
“Prior to the pandemic, we were getting more than 100 comments a week, and our numbers are increasing week by week as we resume more and more services,” Alley said. “Each of those comments then becomes part of a data set, and as long as the customer checked ‘satisfied’ (or) ‘dissatisfied,’ we can see trends, dating back months or years. And that data is searchable, so if the issue comes up again, we can instantly be reminded if it’s a first time or if it’s a recurring issue, which is sometimes related to a time of year or some other catalyst.”
Regur said these analyses are key in helping senior leadership forge a path ahead to better customer service on the installation.
“ICE enables senior leadership the opportunity to identify the members of our workforce who routinely demonstrate the customer-first attitude we strive for,” he said. “It also allows us to focus efforts on improving flaws in systems and processes to serve the community more efficiently. We get a lot of great ideas from our community through the ICE system that identify inefficiencies and issues in systems and processes we might not otherwise be aware of.”
ICE reviews are primarily meant for offices which fall under U.S. Army Installation Management Command, not U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Alley said, but that doesn’t mean those concerns go unheard.
“Even though the TRADOC side of the house doesn’t use ICE, we’ve been able to provide their leadership some of this feedback,” he said. “This has been especially true during our recent response to COVID-19, and continuing the training mission. Soldiers, civilians and family members have submitted comments about how the training barracks were managed to operations at the 43rd (Adjutant General Reception Battalion) as they’ve evolved, and leadership has listened and engaged to make changes where necessary.”
When leaving a review, suggestion, complaint or comment, there may be a temptation to leave the submission anonymous, but including contact information helps both leadership and customers, Alley said.
“It not only helps us make sure it’s a legitimate comment, but also provides us an opportunity to get more details, especially if it’s a suggestion for an improvement,” he said. “Anonymous comments are nice, but the names from customers are much better to help us take action. And, if a person wants a response, they will get one. Our leaders review the responses, and if it appears inadequate, managers are directed to re-engage to make it right.”
As a word of advice to management across the installation, Alley encouraged supervisors to make ICE links and QR codes “obvious” and visible. He said it will result in exponentially more customer engagement.
To submit a review, make a suggestion or leave a positive comment — which are frequently used to recognize employees for outstanding service — visit the Fort Leonard Wood ICE website at https://ice.disa.mil/index.cfm?fa=site&site_id=447&dep=DoD.