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Shoppers Give Commissaries High Grades

By Rick Brink
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORT LEE, Va., June 24, 2003 – A steady rise in customer satisfaction continues as commissary shoppers gave high marks a 4.42 overall score out of a possible 5.0 in the latest commissary customer service survey, Defense Commissary Agency officials announced today.

"We're extremely pleased with the high regard our customers have for their commissaries and the commissary benefit," said Bob Vitikacs, DeCA's executive director for operations and product support. "We know that it's the whole shopping experience clean, attractive stores, courteous employees, convenient hours, speedy checkouts along with our great prices and quality products that keeps our customers coming back and attracts new customers."

The results of the 2003 mid-year customer service survey, conducted in April, mark a steady rise in customer satisfaction going back to 2000. That year, customers gave commissaries an overall score of 4.23. By 2001, the score had risen to 4.33, and by November 2002, the score had risen to 4.39.

The agency conducted the survey annually from 1991 to 2001; survey frequency increased to twice a year in 2002. The survey tallies the responses to 14 questions from more than 20,000 commissary customers worldwide. The increased frequency makes it easier for the agency to measure improvements and to identify what and where to improve.

The 2003 mid-year survey showed customer satisfaction rose slightly in each of the 14 targeted areas, compared to the November 2002 survey. The greatest improvements dealt with time and ease of shopping. "Checkout waiting time" improved from 4.39 to 4.46 while "Store layout and time required to shop" went from 4.39 to 4.45.

Incremental score increases occurred also in every other area, ranging from "Low prices/overall savings," to "Produce meat, deli and bakery quality/selection," to "Attractive displays/store dcor."

The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of nearly 280 commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5 percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones.

Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices savings worth more than $2,400 annually for a family of four, according to the agency.

(Rick Brink works in the Defense Commissary Agency Public Affairs Office.)

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