The first time I heard the acronym “ICE,” I thought it stood for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. And, while that is one reference for the three-letter abbreviation, “ICE” also stands for Interactive Customer Evaluation, which is a program allowing individuals to comment on experiences they’ve had various Department of Defense (DoD) organizations. Some agencies have ICE comment cards at their locations, but most can use the DoD ICE website to submit comments.
So, why should military families care about the ICE program? Simply put, the ICE program is useful for alerting stakeholders and leadership of a problem. For example, I recently had to obtain services through a program on base. After multiple attempts to reach the program coordinator (PC) with no response, I finally reached my wit’s end, and submitted a complaint via the ICE comment system. Within less than two hours of submitting my ICE complaint, I had received an apologetic phone call from the PC and an email from the PC’s supervisor who explained the steps she had taken to rectify the situation.
It turned out that my ICE comment had gone to the PC’s squadron leadership. And it just so happened that this particular squadron’s leadership really valued customer service. So, the PC’s actions were viewed as unsatisfactory, and the situation was remedied quickly. Later on, I spoke with someone else who worked in the PC’s squadron and was informed that part of the reason I got the response I did to my ICE complaint was because of how I worded my complaint. So, here are my suggestions if you want to take advantage of the ICE comment system to bring up a complaint you have:
- Use facts, not emotion. While a situation can be frustrating, try not to let that shine through in your ICE comment. Reading a rant about how their people suck is not going to help fix a problem. In fact, it may cause leadership to ignore your complaint altogether.
- Provide dates, times, and other specific information detailing what you have done to try to resolve the issue already. If you haven’t done anything to try and fix the situation yourself, don’t submit an ICE comment. Try to resolve the situation as best you can, and submit the ICE comment after nothing else has worked.
- Include a recommendation. If you have a suggestion on how your problem can be fixed, include it in your ICE comment. While the person charged with responding to your complaint is not required to heed your suggestion, there’s nothing stopping them from listening.
And, remember, it’s totally okay to use ICE to compliment a service or program that is doing a great job, as well! Just like the ICE process can be used to help solve issues, it can–and should–be used to commend those who are excelling at what they do. Such acknowledgments can serve as encouragement to those who are working what are often thankless jobs and can give those folks the inspiration needed to persevere.
Have you ever submitted an ICE comment? Did it help the situation?
Posted by Roberta Fox, military spouse and NMFA Volunteer