DLA Customer Interaction Center builds relationships via customer support

By Keith Brown, DLA Logistics Operations

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At the Defense Logistics Agency, preserving and strengthening customer relationships is paramount.

The DLA Customer Interaction Center, also known as the CIC, is many customers’ first-contact resolution center. Located in Battle Creek, Michigan, the CIC’s agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays. The CIC strives to answer all calls within 30 seconds and handle requests in less than 12 minutes.

 The CIC receives between 900 and 1,100 contacts daily, 60 percent of which are supply and transportation specific. One customer may need to place an order; another may need help using FedMall for the first time. The rest includes inquiries ranging from excess equipment managed by DLA Disposition Services to vendors wanting to do business with the U.S. government.

“Our agents are multitaskers who like working with people,” said CIC Chief Penny Young. “They have excellent computer, research and communication skills, and the ability to stay calm and collected even on difficult calls.”

DLA CIC agents receive extensive training on requisition processing; DLA products, services and logistics applications; and automated systems used to track customer orders. After training, new agents spend two to three months shadowing seasoned agents before they are fully certified to assist customers on their own. It’s a rigorous process that ensures agents are fully trained and capable of handling the wide range of inquiries they will receive.  

“The training enables us to provide quality support to the warfighter, ensuring they receive the parts they order to support their mission,” said Andrew Firestine, one of the CIC’s more than 100 agents.

“It’s not so much the call but the connection you establish with customers, Firestine said, remembering a call with a customer from Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Virginia.”  “She called to place emergency requisitions. I could hear in her voice that I was able to instill a sense of security, and that she knew she could call DLA knowing that her issues would be handled professionally and efficiently.”  

“It’s the most frustrating job you will ever love,” said Mike Cash, another CIC agent and a Navy veteran. “I love that I’m able to still support the warfighter and take care of customers that also take care of the warfighter.” 

Cash said his most memorable calls are from customers wanting to do business with the government. 

“They are lost and frustrated,” he said. “Getting them calmed down, reassuring them and hearing how relieved they are at the end of the call, the gratitude in their voice — Helping them and in turn helping the warfighter makes it worth it.”

In addition to providing continuous warfighter customer support, the DLA CIC proactively engages with the agency’s whole of government partners. The CIC works closely with Wildland Fire Protection Program customers to ensure they receive required equipment quickly by submitting requisitions, immediately notifying DLA Distribution and following the requisition through until the item ships.

Agents submit requisitions for DLA’s military partners when they require equipment within 24 hours or are having system access issues. The agents communicate with customers in a courteous and professional manner, doing everything they can to ensure customers get answers to their issues by resolving them or forwarding them to the appropriate area for further research and resolution.

Customers requiring logistics support can contact the DLA CIC at dlacontactcenter@dla.mil or 877-DLA CALL (877-352-2255) within the United States. Customers outside the United States can use both the applicable local DSN prefix and country code, followed by 877-352-2255.