Capt Craig Freeman

Small Thought about Customer Service

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to 165 future firefighters at the California Fire Explorer Academy in Oxnard, CA. I chose to speak about a future in the fire service and advice on taking oral exams. One subject in the conversation was customer service and what it means to you as a firefighter.
Customer service is an added value, how you can add value to a trip to the store, a code 2 run to assist a person back to bed, or a 9-1-1 call involving structure fires or auto fires. I discussed how to dovetail these tidbits of information into your oral board and how to effectively answer the question, “What does customer service mean to you?”
It is worth emphasizing: customer service will require a firefighter to be mindful. Mindful firefighters concern themselves with “how can I best provide service.” Rather, mindless firefighters cannot provide customer service because they think in terms of “let’s get out of here.” In a profession built upon compassion, a disregard for others is unacceptable.
This is where customer service should go: A family comes by the fire house with a couple of young children requesting a tour of the station/equipment. Of course, the company officer will get the junior firefighter to conduct the tour, (that’s you). The station tour is usually over about as fast as it starts. Then, it’s off to the fire trucks. A quick look around the fire truck and it’s time to see the firefighter gear. The kids are all over the place, trying on the bunker gear and of course, want to try on a fire helmet.
This all seems like customer service by showing off the equipment and answering questions. But where is the added value? Why was I talking about being a mindful firefighter? Where can these ideas come together for an upgrade of service? Simply stated during your oral, “Customer service is added value. I will remain mindful during a station/equipment tour. I will be vigilant during the tour to make sure our guests’ safety is respected. I will especially pay attention to the children when trying on the fire helmet making sure that it is not too big for them to handle, since it may cause neck injury.” Making sure the added value is appropriate and meaningful to each guest is a key to customer service.
It is this small observance of what customer service is that can make a huge impact on the overall success of the entire program.

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One Response

  1. PAUL R. NELSON Says:
    April 23rd, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    “Something to think about:
    It’s important that our community needs us, But is more important that they
    want us”
    Reach out, Open up, Market your Dept. Fire Station, Company.
    Honor = It is a honor to help people that need our help.

    Just a few thoughts, Nelly