Veterans Affairs looking to civilian retailers for customer service secrets

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By Emily Kopp

Starbucks calls its employees “partners.” Disney has “cast members,” not staff. The Ritz-Carlton’s motto is, “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”

Maybe the Veterans Affairs Department should re-brand its workers too. Following a year of scandals and congressional scrutiny, the department is trying to get veterans, lawmakers and the American public to trust it again. As part of its strategy, it has hired its first chief veterans experience officer, Tom Allin. He said the VA is studying retailers’ secrets to improve its own customer service.

The first secret: If you want satisfied customers, focus on your employees.

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