continue to give benefit ringing endorsement
Kevin L. Robinson, DECA
– Patrons continue to be satisfied with the delivery of the
benefit, according to opinions expressed in the 2007 Commissary
Customer Service Survey. They rated the commissary at 4.60 (on a
scale of 1 to 5) – the second-highest score in the agency’s
commissary benefit belongs to our patrons, so we take their
opinions very seriously,” said Patrick Nixon, director and
chief executive officer of the Defense Commissary Agency.
“This is more than an indication of where we are. We also use
these results to help determine improvements and changes such as
the design of future stores and the products we put on the
DeCA conducted the annual survey over 10 days beginning June 26
at its commissaries worldwide. Surveyed customers answered a
series of 14 questions designed to measure all facets of their
commissary shopping experience. The questions targeted the
following areas: savings and prices; store hours, décor and
appearance; product quality, selection and availability;
checkout procedures; and employee customer service.
The resulting 21,609 responses were measured on a 5-point rating
scale, ranging from 1, “very poor,” to 5, “very good.”
The overall CCSS score is an average of the 14 item scores:
CCSS Item Scores
2005 2006 2007
Low prices/overall savings
4.58 4.61 4.60
Well stocked, full shelves
4.38 4.48 4.49
4.59 4.63 4.64
Entrance/sales area/restrooms cleanliness
4.58 4.64 4.61
4.47 4.52 4.52
4.56 4.62 4.63
4.51 4.59 4.58
4.45 4.52 4.53
Other food items (dry goods, frozen foods & dairy) selection
4.55 4.61 4.61
Store layout and time required to shop
4.55 4.61 4.61
Checkout waiting time
4.56 4.58 4.57
Attractive displays/store décor
4.54 4.58 4.58
Courteous, friendly and helpful employees
4.75 4.77 4.76
Overall satisfaction (How did we do?)
4.68 4.72 4.72
4.55 4.61 4.60
The top three items receiving the highest ratings were
“Courteous, friendly and helpful employees” at 4.76,
“Overall satisfaction (How did we do?)” at 4.72, and
“Convenient hours” at 4.64. “Well-stocked, full shelves”
at 4.49, continued its rise, up one point from last year, and 11
points from 2005.
DeCA officials evaluate the results and look at areas for
improvement, said Barry White, an operations research analyst at
DeCA headquarters. At the same time, the commissary agency sees
the continued high marks as patrons’ validation of the
“We predicted that at some point the scores would tend to
level off, and we may be at that point now,” White said.
“This year’s score follows a relatively large increase from
the 2005 score of 4.55.” The 2007 score of 4.60 is within the
“A” range, he added.
DeCA has used a survey to rate its customer service since its
formation in 1991. Before 2000, the survey was called the
Customer Service and Evaluation System or CSES, an Air Force
system based on a 0-100 rating scale. Since 2000, the agency has
used the CCSS because it is custom-made for evaluating
Ultimately, DeCA considers the survey a tool for identifying
opportunities to deliver a better commissary benefit, Nixon
“The survey results give us a means to identify potential
improvements and to monitor our customers’ perceptions,” the
director said. “You cannot operate in a vacuum and be
successful. This process allows us to stay in tune with our
patrons and continue to do what’s best for them.”
military grocery stores recognized for ‘guerilla marketing’
of the commissary benefit
Carrie Williams, DECA
Defense Commissary Agency officials recognized seven
commissaries for outstanding outreach during the
agency’s 2007 Conference and Training Event in
Va. The winning commissaries are Fort Hood, Texas (best outreach
to retirees); Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas (best outreach to
new recruits); Fort Jackson, S.C. (best outreach to Guard and
Reserve); Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. (best outreach to young
enlisted service members);
, Ky. (best outreach to military families); Misawa Air Base,
Japan (best outreach to young enlisted service members
overseas); and Ramstein Air Base, Germany (best outreach to
military families overseas).
Each year for the past four years DeCA has held an Outreach
Challenge in which commissaries compete for most originality and
creativity in marketing the benefit. The challenge encourages
commissaries to reach out to authorized shoppers who may not be
using their commissary benefit, or who may not be using it
regularly, and provides a unique opportunity for store directors
worldwide to share their best outreach practices with others and
to strengthen the commissary benefit.
This year’s theme was “Guerrilla Marketing and Outreach:
Maximizing Impact,” which emphasized a targeted approach to
outreach and marketing to military families, spouses and
retirees, with a special focus on key demographic groups such as
young, single service members and the Guard and Reserve. The
theme encouraged commissary employees to think nontraditional in
their approach to outreach, in a time of tight budgets and time
Zone managers who oversee operations of the winning commissaries
accepted the awards from Scott Simpson, DeCA’s chief operating
officer. “We’re always struggling to deliver more commissary
s money,” Simpson said, “so the idea of guerrilla marketing
– using limited resources for maximum impact – was a great
theme for the competition and a great philosophy for the agency
as a whole. I am proud of the hard work of everyone involved in
this competition. Congratulations to the winning stores!”
Commissaries entering the competition submitted packages that
documented their best outreach efforts over the previous year.
Entries were judged on originality and creativity of outreach
strategy, effectiveness in reaching intended audiences, and
Employees at Fort Jackson Commissary conducted an off site case
lot sale last fall at the Donaldson Reserve Center in
Greenville, S.C., reaching more than 6,500 Guard and Reserve
personnel in the area who would have had to travel more than two
hours to shop at the commissary. Sa
for the two-day event were a record $135,000.
Commissary employees at Sheppard Air Force Base focused on
educating new recruits by inviting flights of technical training
students to the store for a tour of the facility. This led to a
strengthened store and installation command partnership, and the
collaboration produced a “commissary briefing.” The briefing
is now required for all students within their first 72 hours on
station, and it gives Sheppard Commissary the opportunity to
reach about 800 students a month.
The Nellis Air Force Base Commissary took home the award for
best outreach to young enlisted service members by stepping up
commissary education among the installation’s first-term
airmen. Working with the installation, commissary staffers now
provide information about the benefit to the airmen during their
first installation assignment. A special commissary benefit
video – a collaborative effort between commissary staff and
Command Chief Master Sgt. Britton Ellis – runs multiple times
each month on the installation’s command channel and other
locations on base to reinforce the core commissary messages
learned during the training. View the actual video on the Nellis
Commissary Web page at commissaries.com
agency celebrates 15th anniversary
Kevin Robinson, DECA
“Quality First, People Always” is the motto of the Defense
Commissary Agency, but it could just as well be “We’ve come
a long way baby.” On Oct. 1, commissaries worldwide began a
15th anniversary celebration lasting through the end of 2006.
“This agency continues to save taxpayer dollars while
delivering a vital military benefit important to military family
quality of life, and the recruiting and retention of military
personnel,” said DeCA Director Patrick Nixon. “We’re proud
to have accomplished so much in our short lifetime as an
agency.” Although it’s only been 15 years since the four
military commissary systems combined into one agency, the
commissary benefit is nearly 140 years old.
In 1868, commissary customers had 82
items from which to choose. In 2006, many larger commissaries
have as many as 17,000 items. In 1991, commissaries provided
average customer savings of 20 percent when compared with local
commercial grocery stores, but today’s average commissary
savings are over 30 percent. Thanks to customer surcharge
dollars which are mandated by Congress, DeCA has completed over
140 major construction projects for new or upgraded stores. In
response to customer needs and convenience, ID checks have been
moved from the front door to the registers; and self checkouts,
sushi bars, hot foods, deli/bakeries, credit/debit card
acceptance, gift certificates and much more have been added to
modern commissaries. In 2003, Guard and Reserve families were
authorized full time shopping privileges.
DeCA has new
LEE, Va. – Robert Hansgen, former deputy secretariat of the
U.S. Armed Forces Sports Program, Arlington, Va., is the Defense
Commissary Agency’s new consumer advocate program manager. He
replaces Bonita Moffett, who moved to a new position within the
agency’s Corporate Operations Group in February.
DeCA’s consumer advocate, Hansgen is responsible for improving
communications between commissary customers and DeCA officials,
and serves as the agency’s principal liaison with DeCA’s
Patron Council and other military quality-of-life stakeholders.
look forward to the challenge of fostering better understanding
of the commissary benefit among all of our eligible shoppers and
helping the agency respond to customers’ needs,” Hansgen
says. An important part of his new job is bringing the
customer’s point of view to management policy and decision
making, he adds.
joined DeCA in July after serving nearly 10 years with Army
Morale, Welfare and Recreation. As deputy secretariat of the
Armed Forces Sports program, he developed and strengthened
communications between athletes, Department of Defense leaders
and the general public, and implemented partnerships with
commercial sponsors to promote the Armed Forces Sports Program.
graduated magna cum laude from the University of
Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie, Wis., in 1994 with a Bachelor of
Science degree in business administration and is working on his
master’s degree in public administration at George Mason
University, Fairfax, Va.
can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
New Commissary Patron
Council members reflect all shopping audiences
LEE, Va. – The most recent commissary customer satisfaction survey
shows that 2 percent of
respondents were new commissary shoppers. That’s not all
that’s “new” at the Defense Commissary Agency. Eleven
new members have been recruited for service on DeCA’s Patron
Council, bringing the council up to 22 members and four
Director Maj. Gen. Michael P. Wiedemer welcomed an
unprecedented representation of active-duty, retiree, National
Guard and Reserve, Coast Guard, and military association
leaders to DeCA’s annual Patron Council meeting held July 23
at Fort Belvoir, Va.
Patron Council provides the DeCA Director and key managers
with customer insights about the commissary system, as well as
issues of concern to active duty, retiree, and Guard and
Reserve customers. The council consists of individuals and
organizations representing retired or active duty members or
spouses of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast
Guard, National Guard, and Reserve who have been designated as
official representatives by their respective service or
is on track to achieve much greater awareness of the
commissary benefit,” said Wiedemer. “The addition of these
new members means the patron council truly reflects the great
diversity of our customers. Through their extensive networks,
the new members will also increase our ability to broadcast
commissary benefit messages to authorized shoppers
recent patron council meeting was an opportunity to give
council members, both new and returning, a business review of
DeCA operations, corporate communications, budget, human
resources, information technology, food safety and security,
and even where they can expect to see new commissaries or
store improvements over the next five years. The good news
included information about significant increases in customer
savings and customer satisfaction scores.
veteran council members, the event was also a chance to share
the initiatives they’ve put in place to communicate the
value of the commissary benefit. Army National Guard
representative Ron Tipa, said he has been a loyal commissary
shopper for many years. “I figure I’ve put two kids
through college, thanks to commissary savings,” he said.
Patron Council members have worked hard during the last few
years to get that kind of commissary information out to
authorized shoppers through Web sites, newsletters,
conferences, e-mails and networking opportunities.
the new participants it was more than a learning experience.
“This is a great opportunity to share thoughts and
strategies,” said Sgt. Maj. Eduerdo Gadsden, the new Marine
Corps senior enlisted representative. “I’m here to learn
as much as I can about the commissary benefit so I can carry
that back with me,” said Chief Petty Officer Lynda Kennedy,
Coast Guard Reserve senior enlisted representative. “I want
to be able to answer questions for both Reserve and active
duty and pass along the information that using the commissary
is a great way for service members to save money.”
hope our patron council members will encourage their
constituents to use their commissary benefit,” said Kaye
Kennedy, chief of DeCA corporate communications. “How can
anyone not want to save 30 percent or more on their grocery
Patron Council members can be contacted with customer
questions or concerns through the DeCA web site feedback page
“The new members have already agreed to participate,” said
Kennedy. “This adds another dimension to DeCA’s commitment
to two-way communication with customers.”
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Patron Council members share their Views!
Patron Council members met recently with Defense Commissary
Agency Director Maj. Gen. Michael P. Wiedemer to share their views
WIEDEMER TO DIRECT DECA
PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OHIO - Air Force Major General Mike
Wiedemer is the new director of the Defense
Commissary Agency, headquartered in Fort Lee, Va. For
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