SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – --
Airmen are called to be innovative and develop creative solutions to work efficiently, accomplish the mission and remain the world’s greatest Air Force.
Members of Sheppard AFB’s 82nd Contracting Squadron decided to get innovative in their approach to answering customer service-related questions to make processes smoother for clients and the contracting team.
Second Lt. Haley Spletzer, a contracting specialist, had just arrived to Sheppard AFB from technical training with fresh eyes and new information, ready to work. She said one topic that was emphasized in her training was the message “improve customer education.” She came to her new shop ready to do just that, but found a daunting process for customers, very much in need of revitalization.
The program in place was an 80-page document and an annual briefing regarding information about submitting a contracting requirements package provided to squadron resource advisors. Needless to say, the information was not always well received, often causing more confusion for customers and ultimately making the job of a contracting specialist difficult.
Spletzer said her coworkers, Jimmy Beeson and Steven Taylor, had been thinking a more efficient process that could replace the archaic method, so they decided to attack the issue as a team.
“As soon as people leave a briefing, the information leaves them,” Taylor said. “Contracting specialists are always having new people to teach our processes to and the problem with it is that people want to learn in the moment. They want to follow along as they complete the task.”
The team came up with the idea to create customer education videos with the goal of simplifying processes, providing clarity, and taking things back to basics. They wanted to illustrate contracting principles in a more understandable way to provide the best possible customer service.
However, to illustrate the videos, they needed an artist. Spletzer said it was a no-brainer to call on Airman 1st Class Rachel Edwards, a contracting specialist, for help.
“She is by far the most artistically gifted in the squadron,” Spletzer said. “Steven found a software called ‘Doodly' and Edwards just ran with it.”
Since beginning the project in February, Edwards and the team created eight videos and have no plans to stop any time soon. Positive feedback and support for the new training products have poured in as well as requests for more content.
“The four-minute videos have had a far reach already,” Taylor said. “The Air Force Installation Contracting Center featured our videos in their quarterly newsletter and they’ve been hosted on the AFICC SharePoint, which reaches every operational contracting squadron in the Air Force.”
Edwards also spoke about seeing their work pay off.
“I’ve probably spent more than 100 hours working on the videos both on and off duty,” she said. “It’s been really cool to see how much they’ve been noticed. I even received an email from the commander of AFICC saying she really appreciates all of our work.”
Although the recognition is nice, the team agrees that it’s not what really matters. Rather, it’s the improvement in day-to-day operations.
“The better educated our customers are, the better requirements packages we get,” Taylor said. “It ends up in a smoother process for them and a better end product from us. It saves everyone so much time.”
Great ideas for innovation and unit improvement are always happening, but they can’t be put to action without the approval of leadership.
“We are so lucky to have forward-thinking leaders here,” Edwards said. “We’ve presented some pretty crazy ideas and we’ve never been turned down right off the bat. Once we showed them what we could do, they were right behind us offering to support us with new equipment and getting our content where it needed to go so it could be viewed.”
If you need help with a contracting process or are interested in viewing the videos and website by the 82nd Contracting Squadron, please visit:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHu7FSfi88Th5sPr5u5OmUA or www.82cons.com