It doesn’t cost anything to treat customers with respect.
Col. Kevin Gregory, U.S. Army Garrison commander for Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, said that to members and partners of the installation and community inside the post exchange Thursday morning. He and several others then signed a Customer Service Covenant — 2013 the Year of the Customer.
Gregory signed a similar covenant at the Hunter Club Wednesday, he said.
He referred to “team Stewart,” which includes soldiers, families, Army civilians, contractors, retirees, veterans, mission partners from other services and community partners. The covenant said the partners were committed to “providng the highest quality of service and support throughout the community; serving in a courteous and professional manner; (and) treating all with dignity and respect in an environment that is clean, efficient and customer-focused.”
“There’s a lot going on across the nation right now that affects our soldiers and our families,” Gregory said, alluding to sequestration cuts. “This (covenant) is something that doesn’t cost a bit of money...It’s a continuous covenant with all our customers.”
Gregory said Stewart-Hunter has always been customer-focused, noting the installation has a 93 percent satisfaction rate from customers. He said the goal is to increase that to 100 percent, even with cuts.
“We are looking at and planning for how services might be affected by sequestration,” Gregory said, noting the across-the-board cuts could cost Stewart-Hunter $56 million this fiscal year. “It’s not just sequestration we’re planning for. There’s also the continuing budget resolution, which comes back up in March. And there’s planning for how we’ll deal with mandatory furloughs in April.”
He said there likely will be an exemption for medical and emergency personnel. He said civil service personnel could wind up with a 20 percent pay cut, due to the required 22 unpaid furlough days between April and October. The installation might also have to cut some hours, he said.
“My biggest concern is how the morale of the workforce is going to be affected,” Gregory said. “It’s my job as a leader to inspire the workforce to work through this. I’ll do this through transparency, by telling people what I know is going to happen and admitting what I don’t know yet.”
Gregory noted that Stewart-Hunter has already cut 30 percent from its budget, including saving more than $4 million on energy last year. He said while the Customer Service Covenant was being signed, Brig. Gen. John Hort, 3rd Infantry Division deputy commanding general-rear, was video-conferencing with Maj. Gen. Robert “Abe” Abrams, 3rd ID and Stewart-Hunter commanding general. They discussed sequestration and other budget issues, he said. He added the command should have more details in two weeks.
Those who signed the Customer Service Covenant were Gregory; Command Sgt. Maj. Louis Felicioni, Stewart-Hunter command sergeant major; 3rd ID’s 2012 Soldier of the Year Spc. April Walter; Civilian of the Year Wanda Parker; family member Alison L. Spears; Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Pugsley, 15th Air Squadron; Command Sgt. Maj. (ret.) Jeff Ashmen, Fort Stewart Retirement Council member; Roy Bethel, contractor and TFW project manager; Mayor Mary Warnell, Pembroke; and Peter Jennings, Army Materiel Command/Directorate of Logistics.