Is the customer always right? I’m afraid not.
Case in point: The recent Toby Keith concert on Wetherby Field. Many of our customers told us they would not attend the event because it should have been free. In fact, one went so far as to say all concerts should be free for Soldiers and their families.
While I would certainly like to be able to offer all of our concerts absolutely free of charge, that’s not realistic or even possible. We love it when USO hosts a free concert on Fort Benning, as they did last year when Trace Adkins wrapped up his USO tour on Wetherby Field, but somebody had to cover the cost — busses run on gasoline and road crews have families to feed, just like you and I. It’s true, nothing is really free. In most cases, Toby Keith included, our incredible sponsors help defray the cost, so we can pass on a considerable savings to our community.
No, the customer is not always right, but the customer should always be treated with dignity and respect. The customer does reserve the right to attend or not attend any concert he or she chooses, to frequent any business he or she chooses, to eat on post or off. It is our job at Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation to ensure we offer the very best opportunities, top notch, affordable programs, clean and comfortable facilities, and customer service that’s second to none. If we do those four things, we will succeed at our mission to serve and support the Soldiers and families of Fort Benning.
We do that best when we listen to our customers. We do that in a number of ways, including face-to-face feedback, Facebook conversation, Interactive Customer Evaluation (or ICE) card comments and customer surveys.
Some of you received, or will soon receive, the 2011 FMWR Leisure Needs Survey in the mail. And many of you will have the opportunity to participate in this survey at various locations around post, including the PX and commissary, the week of July 25-29, or you can access it on our website at www.benningmwr.com or at www.SERegionSurvey.org.
The Leisure Needs Survey is important, because it helps us shape our programs and prioritize plans for improving facilities and activities. It is important to our community for that same reason. Many of the improvements to our facilities and programs were a direct result of the survey information we received in the last survey, conducted four years ago.
In fact, in 2008, Fort Benning Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation ranked among the top three FMWRs in the Southeast for showing the most improvement in the area of quality of life, based on the investment of capital in facilities and programs deemed important to the Fort Benning community by the Fort Benning community in the Leisure Needs Survey. From an indoor recreation facility for children to new family dining options, you asked for it, and we built it, improved it, moved it or shaped it into what you wanted and needed. We listened! We always listen. No, the customer is not always right, because he or she is not always privy to the logistics or reasoning behind our policies and practices, but we will always listen to what our customers have to say and do our best to meet their needs. We probably won’t ever build a zoo on Fort Benning, though someone requests it from time to time, but we will bring you the free wild animal safari, like we did in the spring, or host a trip to the Atlanta Zoo. We can’t offer every concert for free, but we’ll work hard to keep them all affordable.
If you live, work or play on Fort Benning, I encourage you to take the time to complete the Leisure Needs Survey. It will take you five minutes, and I believe the Fort Benning community will reap the benefits for many years to come.