ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
When DEERS, the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, went down last summer, wait times to get a Common Access Card were several hours long.
"We recognized that our customers were frustrated, and we needed to make improvements," said 1st Lt. Somer Lopez, 78th Force Support Squadron Military Personnel Section Customer Support chief.
To fix the situation, a Lean event was held late last year to determine how to better serve customers by reducing wait times and making the whole process easier.
According to www.lean.org, lean is a way of streamlining processes to improve customer service and evaluates each step of the process.
"A lean organization understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it," the website said.
Understanding that it was not meeting customer needs is what prompted the CAC office to start assessing its methods.
One of the biggest actions that the staff realized was walk-in appointments can't be controlled. That's why a push toward the online appointment scheduler is so important.
"It makes our customer traffic more predictable so we have a better idea of how to schedule the day," said Master Sgt. Pamela Taylor, Superintendent, Customer Support & Career Development.
Not only can people access the site on Robins, they can access it from anywhere. And, that helps with spouses and other sponsored individuals who need to schedule appointments.
Those with appointments have priority over those who are walk-ins. The goal is to get customers in and out within 20 minutes.
Some of that time is the five to seven minutes it takes to code each card. There are several processes and checks which are part of the internal policy of DEERS and the Air Force concerning what documents have to be presented.
"We've had an overwhelmingly positive response from customers who've used the online Rapids Appointment Scheduler," said Lopez.
"They're the gatekeepers for the base," Lopez said regarding employees' requirement to make sure all documents are scanned into the system before issuing a card.
"Our vision for the future is a lot more services online allowing customers to help themselves," Lopez said.
The hours for the CAC office are 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, but making an appointment is a sure way to guarantee getting in and out the fastest.
"We're customer oriented and we're trying to get people out of there quickly," Lopez said.
Some services can be performed online and don't need an in-person visit such as updating contact or email information as well as acquiring DD Form 1172-2.
That website is https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/self_service
which can be accessed from any computer or mobile device.