- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - The Navy says customers at its exchange stores are giving them high marks for customer satisfaction, according to a recent survey.

The Virginia Beach-based Navy Exchange Service Command released the results of an annual customer satisfaction survey Thursday. Military personnel, their families and retirees can shop for a wide variety of goods at on-base exchanges, similar to what might be found in shopping malls and big-box retail stores.

On a 100-point scale, customers gave Navy exchanges an 85 during the 2013 customer satisfaction survey.

“A score of 85 keeps the satisfaction level of the NEX on the same plane as some of America’s most customer-focused retailers, such as Nordstrom and Kohl’s,” Robert J. Bianchi, Navy Exchange Service Command’s chief executive officer, said in a written statement.

The survey began in 1998 and its first score was a 61. Since then, the score has steadily increased and reached its peak of 85 in 2012, which was matched in the 2013 survey.

The survey covers the 60 largest Navy Exchange stores, according to the command.

Often, goods sold at exchanges are much less expensive than comparable items at private retailers. In 2012, a survey of 400 products in eight exchanges throughout the United States showed that its customers saved an average of 21 percent, not including sales tax exemptions.

The survey results come at a time when the Defense Department wants to eliminate subsidies for its commissaries so that they can be run more like each branch’s exchanges, which don’t receive subsidies. The Navy uses profits from its exchanges to contribute to its morale, welfare and recreation programs.

The Navy says more than 13,000 customers around the world were asked to participate in the survey. About 75 percent of survey respondents said they would recommend shopping at an exchange to someone else who is authorized to shop there.

Customers in the Midsouth region gave their exchanges the highest score, at 90. The region includes exchanges in Tennessee, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and western Florida. The lowest average score was for the Europe region, at 85.

The Navy says about 12.4 million people are eligible to shop at its exchanges.


Brock Vergakis can be reached at www.twitter.com/BrockVergakis

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