New Navy call center tries to create quick personnel fixes for sailors

The Navy made it easier for its sailors to get personnel and human resources help last month by opening up the MyNavy Career Center.

The center, which is in a beta run, is a 24/7 help hub for career planning, personnel, pay and training issues.

“Our approach is very similar to what you’d expect with online banking,” Rear Adm. Jeff Hughes, deputy chief of naval personnel, told Federal News Network on Agency in Focus: Navy. “In a lot of cases you’ll go into your bank through an app, you’ll get information or you’ll conduct transactions. If you find you can’t get satisfied with what is available on the app, a lot of times you just call the number and work with a call center agent.”

The Navy is rolling out a similar approach to personnel issues. The MyNavyPortal gives sailors a single point of entry to get information about the programs and services available to them. If the sailor needs further help, he or she can call the new 24-hour call center, which will act as a central clearing house for information requests.

“We’ve got 200 call center agents who are available. They can take the inquiry by phone. Sailors can actually get to it through MyNavyPortal, they can send them an email and they can even text the call center to communicate an agent,” Hughes said. The hope is to solve simple problems and transactions at the call center level.

Finally, if a sailor still needs help, the case will be sent to experts in the field to handle the issue.

The Navy’s previous call center only had about 50 agents on duty and took calls for 12 hours a day.

“The biggest piece for us is the former customer service center only had limited hours, now we are 24/7 and that’s critical because we are a global outfit and we want people to be able to reach out to us no matter what their time zone is,” Hughes said.

Hughes said the Navy is consolidating its personnel information because there were too many areas to find information in the past. That made it harder for sailors to find the exact answer to their question.

“They’ve been frustrated because they weren’t sure what the authoritative source is, what should I go? How do I get the right answer and how can I get these things started? And we have to be mindful; these sailors are all over the world and may have limited opportunities to reach out and contact us. We need to make sure we are aligning to their needs instead of the other way around,” Hughes said.

The next step is to find the most frequent questions that end up going to the experts and make knowledge management articles for MyNavyPortal so sailors can begin to figure out some of the more common and complicated problems on their own.

Hughes said in the first three weeks, the center is resolving issues in the first contact with its customers at a rate of 90 percent. The industry standard is 65 percent.

The after-call customer reviews are at a 4.8 to 4.9 out of 5, Hughes said.

Read more of the DoD Personnel Notebook.