Johan Hoogeweegen says what sets Tsebo apart is its fully integrated Customer Experience (CX) strategy. Listening to and understanding client needs, striving to exceed expectations and responsiveness are key attributes of the Tsebo DNA.
Born in The Netherlands, Johan spent most of his working life abroad before settling down in South Africa. It was here that he joined the Tsebo family three decades ago.
A head-start in the hospitality industry
Johan studied international hotel management at the Hotel School, The Hague in The Netherlands. Working in the hotel industry requires managing an often taxing schedule, working crazy hours, leaving little time for family. Eventually, Johan was drawn to Fedics Food Services (as it was called at the time). He spent 13 years in operational management at Fedics before leaving for another position. A few years later, he was back to rejoin the Tsebo family.
While Johan has made quite a name for himself when it comes to empowering Tsebo to deliver on customer experience consistently, it was not his initial plan.
“I didn’t come up with the idea; it was actually Chris Jardine, our joint Group CEO, who came up with the suggestion. He was the CEO of the Catering Division at the time, and he decided that the business needed someone to manage customer service in a permanent role,” Johan explains.
“Long story short, the position started within Catering and achieved remarkable success in terms of building client relationships and measuring client satisfaction. I very quickly got the idea to expand the methodology and the benefits to the rest of the Tsebo Group.”
The benchmark for client retention
Since then, Johan has played a vital role in driving client retention throughout our business. The key factor is obviously client satisfaction, which averages in excess of 82% and is still rising. High levels of consistent client satisfaction naturally benefit our client retention rate, which has averaged 96% for the last 5 years. Another key measurement that sets us apart from our competition is that our average contract tenure is 12.8 years, while the industry average is only 7.9 years. The customers that we have tend to stay invested in our business for a very long time. One of the reasons for this is our superior customer service.
The secrets of customer satisfaction
According to Johan, there are two critical ingredients to successful customer experience management.
“From a data perspective, you need to constantly check that your brand is living up to the promises it makes and customer expectations. The other is to ensure that you build operational business support, agility and resilience to support great customer experience”, he explains.
When asked about the importance of cross-selling and up-selling, Johan says, “We have set ourselves some very ambitious targets, and new business is obviously critical, while at the same time retaining our clients. It’s all about staying close to our clients. I believe everyone has a part to play in exceeding customer expectations, client retention and growing our business. Our employees understand this through focused training interventions, rigid processes and group-wide application of best practices, in turn boosting brand value and market share. Over time we have achieved a cultural transformation, enabling anyone of our staff to create the kind of customer experience that makes a difference.”
Customer feedback is critical
One of the ways Tsebo establishes how our customers and clients truly rate us is by conducting detailed one-on-one surveys. The survey process is outsourced to an external research company to ensure objectivity. We reach out to all our customers, from Cape Town to Cairo, to find out what they think, and we respond accordingly. The feedback that we receive from these surveys is generally very positive and complimentary. It is worth mentioning that these surveys are voluntary. Our customers complete them because they want to share their thoughts. On average, Tsebo conducts over 2 000 surveys annually.
In the event that any individual score falls below our minimum satisfaction benchmark, a unique alert management process is triggered to immediately remedy any issues. “Now that the relevant individuals and teams are aware of the issue, we can monitor, track and remedy the situation in what I think are typically astonishing response timeframes,” Johan says.
Noting one of the interesting insights derived from customer feedback, Johan comments: “I’ve never come across a customer who struggled to get hold of anybody or had issues finding the person they needed to speak to in Tsebo. I’ve never encountered that.”
The future of Tsebo
Johan is fully confident that Tsebo will easily make 100 years. “Our business has stood the test of time, and our staff are standing side by side with our customers and clients, providing consistently reliable outcomes. So, congratulations, Tsebo. Here’s to the next 50 years of possibility,” he concludes.