The boxes are put away, the photos are hung, your claim is completed and you're settling into your new home. It feels good to have the latest permanent change of station, or PCS, move completed, doesn't it?
But wait, there is one more thing you should do. The Customer Service Satisfaction Survey, or CSS, needs to be completed. Here's why.
This survey -- which can be found on Move.mil -- is the one tool that the Defense Department has to determine how successful -- or not -- PCS season is. It also plays a big role in how the transportation service providers, or TSPs, are ranked and assigned shipments. According to the Defense Travel Regulation, the survey is the TSPs' Performance Score, which accounts for 70% of a company's Best Value Score, or BVS. Cost makes up the remaining 30%.
What does this mean for you? In short, the whole story isn't being told, which means problems are slipping through the cracks.
During peak season, we hear in many military-centric groups things like, "I don't know how this company is still in business. They are the worst!" That's because so few people fill out the survey, only the experiences of those who gave feedback are depicted in the BVS.
For instance, the DoD relocation program handles approximately 350,000 shipments per year. But surveys are filled out for only about 24% of those shipments. That means that 84,000 survey results are setting the tone for the program, which yields a 96% satisfaction rating. In other words, 266,000 surveys weren't filled out, so those experiences aren't factored in.
According to Director of Defense Personal Property Program Rick Marsh, "The survey gives us input to solve problems, which means that, yes, we do read them and reach out to customers to see how we can make things right. The survey also serves to give DoD senior leaders a macro-look at the program performance."
But they give us so many surveys, you say. Why is this one important?
Many families have highlighted the inconvenience of having to fill out multiple surveys during the PCS process. Often, as your household goods are being loaded on the truck or you're signing an inventory, an iPad is being pushed toward you to fill out a survey. Then, the DoD asks you to fill one out at the end.
It is important to note that any surveys that are not filled out on Move.mil are not seen by the DoD. Instead, they are internal surveys for your moving company. To help combat this issue and to ensure more customers fill out the appropriate survey, the DoD has prohibited duplicate survey questions from TSPs. The only survey you should receive is from the DoD after your move.
Customers can also expect to see changes to improve the DoD's survey.
"The existing survey was probably OK when it was first deployed, but it's dated and hasn't aged well. For vehicle shipments, we are also still using postcards that are manually tabulated," Marsh said.
The DoD program recently awarded a contract to bring modern survey tools to the program, as well as expertise in measuring customer satisfaction.
"There are dedicated firms who do this for a living and have developed better survey delivery methods than we could ever build," Marsh said. "By making it easier for customers to provide feedback, I'm confident we'll see higher survey response rates. The need to improve the survey process is one area of alignment between DoD and industry."
Customers have up to 12 months after their shipment is delivered to fill out the Customer Service Satisfaction Survey on Move.mil. If you have trouble accessing it, you can also call the help desk to fill out the survey over the phone at (800) 462-2176.
Your voice matters. Make sure you're using it to make the PCS process smoother for other families -- and for your own family further down the road.
-- Megan Harless is an Army veteran, military spouse, the 2020 Military.com Changemaker of the Year and mom to three amazing children. She is passionate about educating others on PCS regulations and policies, all while working on reform efforts to streamline and simplify the process for military families.
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