By Mikala McCurry, AFCLC Outreach Team, AFCLC
/ Published September 27, 2021
“I want people to be treated how I want to be treated, so I’m going to give you the best customer service I can because I feel each person needs it. Even in difficult situations, I am still happy to work with individuals professionally. I don’t want anyone to feel negative or not feel they’ve been heard because everyone’s situation is different,” Jessica Carroll said. (Courtesy photo)
The Air Force Culture and Language Center Team is equipped with experienced and dedicated individuals who ensure that our Language Enabled Airman Program Scholars, Foreign Area Officers, and other military personnel who utilize our services have everything they need to complete each mission. Team members like FAO Planning Coordinator Jessica Carroll help AFCLC to build and embody the true essence of customer service.
When Carroll first joined the AFCLC team in 2017, she was strategically placed in a position that she didn’t apply for based on her skillset.
“I was working at the school on base as an educational aide with special needs children when I saw a job working with the Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line within the Air Force Community College,” she said. “I was trying for the job at CCAF, but when I interviewed and they saw my resume, AFCLC leadership had a different job that they thought would suit me best. I met with AFCLC to interview for a customer service role working with the FAO team, and I had everything they were looking for.”
Carroll became a FAO Language, Regional Expertise and Culture adviser for the SOUTHCOM and INDOPACOM regions. Essentially, she functioned as a travel manager for the FAOs, ensuring they had everything they needed to make it to their destination and back efficiently and safely.
“You never know what kind of situation is going on throughout the world. We constantly monitor environmental factors, such as the weather and the local news in the countries. For example, when there were typhoons in Japan, we were reaching out to the FAOs immersed there to make sure they were OK. We’re always looking into different things and making sure our people are safe,” Carroll said.
Coming from several years of experience in customer service, Jessica Carroll utilizes her service skills and motherly nature to provide top-notch customer service to FAOs.
“I’m a mama bear, and the FAOs are like my children; I always want to find ways to help them and want them to feel comfortable coming to me. My biggest motto is the Golden Rule: treat others how you want to be treated.
“I want people to be treated how I want to be treated, so I’m going to give you the best customer service I can because I feel each person needs it. Even in difficult situations, I am still happy to work with individuals professionally. I don’t want anyone to feel negative or not feel they’ve been heard because everyone’s situation is different,” Carroll said.
One of her favorite parts about her role is working together with others and getting to meet the interesting people that she connects with through AFCLC.
“We do a lot of problem-solving and bounce around a lot of ideas to get things done. I also enjoy getting to know the FAOs and hearing, as well as experiencing, their interesting stories. You have a professional friendship with these individuals,” Carroll said.
In her role, Carroll has had several experiences where she had to be innovative and think critically to combat difficult situations for FAOs.
“I’ve had so many situations where I’ve had to jump through hoops to get someone where they needed to be. One of my FAOs needed to get out of Guatemala, and a volcano erupted. He had to stay a few extra days. He was supposed to get on a plane but couldn’t because the planes were grounded. While staying, he continued to provide support and assistance at the embassy. Once planes were back flying, I worked with him to get him a plane ticket to get back home.
“In another situation, I had a FAO who rented a car while on temporary duty travel and got into an accident. He contacted me immediately, and I kept him calm and helped him resolve the situation,” Carroll said.
Recently, Jessica Carroll went beyond her role and truly modeled AFCLC customer service in a difficult situation by helping a FAO who had fallen ill make emergency plans to return home.
“The FAO was in Costa Rica. We knew he had some medical issues and dietary restrictions, but he didn’t give us specifics. He suddenly got extremely sick during his mission and needed to return home. He kept us abreast, including our vendor and his point of contact in Costa Rica. My role was to make sure everyone was informed and in the loop with what was going on with him. I know if I was in that situation, I would want someone to help me and get me out as quickly as possible,” she said. “I was on the phone with the commercial travel office for hours. I had to rebook a ticket and figure out where he could get tested for COVID so he could get on a plane that evening. I don’t think I finished up work until 8 p.m. that evening so that I could be sure he had his plane ticket and knew where he was going for testing. In situations like that, you have to do what you have to do.”
Carroll also played an integral part in getting FAOs back home at the brink of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When the COVID pandemic hit, we had to get everybody out of those countries last year. That was hard calling the commercial travel office to make sure everybody had tickets, and everybody was going home. Our vendors helped us get them to the airports and out of the homestays. It was a lot of stuff. Communication is very key in our jobs,” Carroll said.
For Carroll, the two most important components of quality customer service are patience and communication.
“In this role, patience is a big virtue. My biggest thing is to have patience and to breathe and know there is a solution to everything. You just might have to sit down and think about it or communicate it with other people to talk it out to get that conclusion and put it into effect.
“Communication is also key in customer service. If you can’t communicate and build rapport with people, people don’t want to talk to you. That’s why when I introduce myself to them, I tell them a little bit about me and am very personable to build that foundation. We are their key points of contact, so we have to make sure they understand us and that our communication is always open. Even after a mission, we continue to work with these people and never truly know who all we could be connected with through them,” Carroll said.
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