Thank you to everyone who completed a customer survey in July of this year; it really helps us to find out what you think we’re doing well and what we need to work on improving. Although the main body of the survey shows overall improvement from last year, the responses to “Please share a wish you have for Willy Street Co-op” show there’s still room for more.

The General Manager’s team of managers was asked about what they would be doing differently based on the survey results, and here are their answers. Quoted items are taken verbatim from the responses to “Please share a wish you have for Willy Street Co-op,” although I have used only the most relevant sentence when the respondent used more than one.

If you have interest in seeing particular projects that we are working on completed sooner rather than later, please let us know—more interest will mean a higher priority for those projects! You can indicate this interest either by filling out a Customer Comment form in the store or emailing customer.comments@willystreet.coop.

IT Manager James Phetteplace
We’ve gotten more and more requests for open wi-fi, and now we have it in both stores—request fulfilled!

“Besides a wish for lower prices in this tough economy, I wish the store would allow employees to choose music to play. I love music and am always looking for new music from the venues I support. Coffee houses do a good job of playing new music, interesting music. Please allow the employees this freedom.” Technically, this is possible with our existing system. Legally, we can’t play CDs, but we could have a feedback mechanism to the two store DJs (Zelda and Amy).

“Promote co-operation with other co-ops in the region.” We do this on a regular basis.  I speak with my counterparts at other co-ops on a weekly basis minimum. Other managers talk with their colleagues as well, though maybe not as often.

“I wish the bus directions and schedules posted in the lobby were a bit clearer and updated to match bus arrival times.” We are looking into installing a monitor that tracks one or two bus stops and gives realtime arrival estimates based on GPS on the buses.

There were a few requests for electronic receipts—either offering the ability for customers to have them emailed or to have them available online. This is currently a “wishlist” project, although we have recently upgraded our website and could potentially have Owner receipts available on our website.

Director of Finance David Waisman
“I want to use my amer. express credit card.” I am investigating that option and will report on what I find out.

Human Resources Manager Sarah Dahl
Although a number of comments praised staff members (“I love how responsive the staff is and how everyone knows their section of the store really well,” for example), a number of comments also requested better customer service (“Friendliness and courteousness should, ideally, be more of a priority,” for example). The HR department is working with the store managers and the Co-op Services department to revamp our customer service training to help ensure that we have friendlier, more service-oriented staff.

Director of Co-op Services Lynn Olson
“[W]ish the Co-op would be more of a leader in the community, taking part in councils, leading citywide initiatives, etc.” Currently, the Co-op has representation on a few community projects including the Dane County Food Council, Madison’s Sustainability Committee, Middleton Sustainability Committee, Community Shares of WI, the Northside Planning Council’s FEED Kitchens project, and Marquette Neighborhood Association. Our sponsorship, donations and Community Reinvestment Fund budgets have benefited multiple organizations in their efforts as well.

“A low-income membership discount. When I lived in Olympia, Washington, the Olympia Food Co-op had such a membership classification.” Our Access discount provides a 10% discount on all purchases, is available for any Owner who uses one of several services offered for people living on low incomes (QUEST, BadgerCare, HUD, etc.).

“I would like to see the Co-op ‘expand’ (greatly) by helping other co-ops form and serve other communities in Dane County as well as WSGC now serves East + as far as NW Madison.” Besides assisting the Yahara River Grocery Co-op in Stoughton, we’ve been actively assisting the community co-ops in Baraboo, Richland Center and Deerfield. We encourage all communities interested in starting a co-op to contact us for technical assistance.

“I’d really like the Co-op to provide more information on GMO products. Currently there is a fight with the government to get those labeled but in the mean time I’d like to see an effort to reduce the sale of those products.” In addition to supporting the Non-GMO project and Truth in Labeling campaign, we’ve been focusing on this issue, but will work to increase our visibility of non-GMO work.

Director of Communications Brendon Smith
“Better online presence; for example, I’d like to receive a link to the newsletter, and specials, via email instead of a paper copy.” Good news: we have just upgraded our website, which now features a forum for those who want to start or add to discussions; a shopping list feature; more product information; and the long-awaited ability to sign up for email notification of newsletters and links to our online version instead of getting a paper copy. To sign up for this email notification, go to willystreet.coop, log in (creating a password if you don’t already have one), and go to My Account, and Edit. There you can choose to get the newsletter online instead of via mail. If there are more features you would like, please let me know.

Willy East Store Manager Dan Frost
Many respondents implored us to stay on Willy Street and for the Willy Street store to remain a full service Grocery. As I hope you’ve heard clarified by now: there are no plans to the contrary.

There were also numerous wishes we’ll consider carefully as renovation requests, like:

  • Increase East’s size, create space!
  • Expanding East’s Deli and aligning its offerings more closely with West’s
  • Growing our meat service
  • Offering alcohol and wine—even just a little...
  • Providing more parking if possible—but at least not less!
  • Creating more dine-in seating
  • And many more—thank you for your input and ideas!

Many of your suggestions reflected how crowded the East store is or even how the few existing limitations at Willy East affect your shopping experience. Your mentions of parking, the limitations on Deli selection, the lack of a hot bar, the widespread desire for a fresh meat case or a smattering of alcohol seemed all to say: help us speed up our shopping experience overall. In addition to considering the bigger of these requests in our renovation process, we’ll take on a few improvement efforts straight away. The vast majority of East shoppers did not experience long check-out lines, but some of you do and we’ll work to address that as best as we can. My sense is that until our renovation this will have to be done creatively as there are steadily more and more hours during the day when East’s Front End is at full capacity—running with all seven of our registers open.

Many of you have requested expanded hours. This request was not unique to East and quite a lot goes into decisions around our hours of operation so I’ll simply commit to making sure we consider these requests carefully. If nothing else, it may be the creative way we have to increase parking and open more registers.

Willy West Store Manager Mike Byrne
We at West will continue to explore ways to offer more things on sale (by featuring them prominently and well-signed). We will also try to improve the shopping experience by getting more efficient at all aspects of customer service from directly assisting customers with requests and all the way to the checkout lanes. This year I also want to assist customers with getting their groceries out to their car when they have a full load.

Thirdly I would like to raise our score in the sourcing of more Fair Trade and local products and plan to work with the Purchasing Department to expand those choices.
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