State Department visits AFPC to learn customer service expertise

Tonya Harris, of the Air Force Personnel Center, briefs visitors from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Human Resources on the various Web-based technologies employed at AFPC's 24-hour Air Force Contact Center. The seven-member team visited AFPC recently to learn the many initiatives that have been undertaken to deliver personnel services to Air Force customers worldwide. (U.S. Air Force photo/Richard Salomon)

Tonya Harris, of the Air Force Personnel Center, briefs visitors from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Human Resources on the various Web-based technologies employed at AFPC's 24-hour Air Force Contact Center. The seven-member team visited AFPC recently to learn the many initiatives that have been undertaken to deliver personnel services to Air Force customers worldwide. (U.S. Air Force photo/Richard Salomon)

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Seven members of the U.S. State Department' Bureau of Human Resources visited the Air Force Personnel Center here Aug. 25-26 to learn the many technological initiatives the center has undertaken to deliver personnel services to its customers.

"We want to continue to enhance our human resources capacity and what better way to do that than to take some lessons learned from another top-notch operation," said Linda Taglialatela, the bureau's deputy assistant secretary who headed the team.

The State Department plans to set up its own call center, called the HR Service Center, this November to provide personnel services to its foreign service and civil service employees, which number around 22,000 worldwide.

"Because the Air Force Contact Center at AFPC is able to provide quality multi-tiered support to so many people, we definitely wanted to get a hands-on look on how they do things," Ms. Taglialatela said.

The Air Force Contact Center provides 24-hour customer service to more than 470,000 Air Force and civilian Airmen worldwide. Those services have continued to diversify and increase since its inception in September 2003.

During the two-day visit, the delegation also took note of AFPC's other "virtual service" initiatives such as monthly Webinars that allow direct interaction via live chat rooms to personnelists in the field and the center's many Personnel Services Delivery Transformation efforts that have shifted personnel transactions to a Web-based, self-service model.

In addition, AFPC's various directorates briefed the delegation on the use of field representatives to provide a better flow of information, quality control procedures in handling personnel records, and Total Force and regionalization efforts in civilian personnel services.

"I was especially impressed with their use of technology in their personnel processes," Ms. Taglialatela said. "From the contact center to the records management area, all of us now have quite a few takeaways we can apply to our organization."

The Department of State is the lead U.S. foreign affairs agency and its head, the Secretary of State, is the president's principal foreign policy advisor. The Department also supports foreign affairs activities of other U.S. government entities and provides an array of services to U.S. citizens and to foreigners who seek to visit or immigrate to the United States.