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Knowing Your Limitations
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Navy Customer Service Manual
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Answering Questions
A PO2 transferring from ship to shore is entitled to shipment of personal effects, but ship’s personnel can’t make the arrangements. That must be done ashore. A member aboard a destroyer has every right to expect  competent  service  aboard  ship  on  matters relating  to  pay.  Not  so,  for  a  member  aboard  a minesweeper—this  member  must  depend  upon  the facilities  ashore  or  the  facilities  of  another  ship. A ship’s store aboard a carrier carries as many products as some exchanges ashore. The ship’s store on a  destroyer  must  limit  itself  to  little  more  than necessities. A member stationed ashore may take advantage of the tuition aid program or VA benefits and attend college  during  off-duty  hours.  The  member  afloat seldom  has  an  educational  opportunity  other  than correspondence  or  extension  courses. Medical and dental facilities in the Navy are the best available. However, the services that are provided by  the  Naval  Hospital,  Bethesda,  Naval  Medical Command National Capital Region, are far greater than those aboard ship. Shipboard personnel are no less dedicated or qualified. The limitation results from lack of facilities and personnel. Even the services aboard ships vary with their size and mission and the personnel and  facilities  available. Legal  assistance  is  a  very  valuable  service. However,  legal  assistance  aboard  a  ship  without  a lawyer  is  limited  to  referring  the  member  to  legal assistance  officers  ashore. The size of the enlisted dining facility afloat or ashore is usually high in quality and the choice of items offered Here again, a lack of facilities and personnel could  impose  limitations. Unexpected  loss  of  personnel,  equipment  failure,  or an unusually heavy work load may impose temporary limitations  on  the  operations  of  your  contact  point.  You must then work around those limitations to ensure you still  provide  the  best  possible  service. KNOWING  ALTERNATIVES Few of our decisions in life are based on a “do this or   do   nothing”   type   of   choice.   We   usually   have alternatives from which to choose. The following are examples of some choices Navy members might make: Members who have completed their enlistment have  several  alternatives:  extend,  reenlist,  or  separate. An SK in charge of a ship’s store can choose whether to suggest a substitute for an item that is temporarily out of stock or to simply say, “We don’t have it.” Members who score too low on tests to qualify for the rating of their choice may choose to retake the tests to try to improve their scores or they may choose to strike for a related rating that does not require the higher  scores. As  in  Case  Number  7,  a  contact  point  repre- sentative may know of a service provided by another contact  point  that  could  help  a  customer.  The  contact point representative can choose to help the customer by sharing that information or to let the customer find out through other means. As a contact point representative, you should not try to make decisions for the customer, but you should explain options. Even though customers may not always make  the  wisest  choice,  they  should  have  the  options explained  to  them. CUSTOMER ASSISTANCE The  mechanics  of  your  job  are  normally  of  no concern  to  the  customer  unless  they  have  a  direct bearing  on  the  customer’s  problem.  However,  they sometimes might be the reason for action or a lack of action contrary to the customer’s wishes. In that case, some   explanation   will   increase   the   customer’s confdence  in  your  ability  and  knowledge. On the other hand, needless discussion about how hard your job is or how much effort you are exerting to get  the  job  done  would  be  counterproductive.  The customer is not likely to feel an overwhelming gratitude for a job done under protest. You are never justified in ignoring a customer; to be ignored is discouraging to a customer. There are times when you can’ t drop what you are doing; however, you can acknowledge the customer’s presence. If you are busy with a customer, a look and a nod will acknowledge the second customer’s presence. However, your actions to put the second customer at ease should not cause the first customer to feel rushed. If you have other brief work  that  you  want  to  finish,  one  sentence  of explanation is sufficient. Most people don’t mind a 3-16

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