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Truworths truly understands customers and Humaness®
Truworths truly understands customers and Humaness®

Truworths truly understands customers and Humaness®


Jan 22nd 2014, 12:57

The Ask Afrika Orange Index® 2013/14 reveals why Truworths was ranked as the best service delivery company in SA and clothing retail category winner

Truworths was the overall winner in this year’s Ask Afrika Orange Index® service delivery awards and was able to show a significant increase in three important categories: a decrease in their dissatisfied client base; an increase in their satisfied client base; coupled with an increase in their delighted client base. Truworths were also the clothing retail category winner with Foschini coming in second place.

The Clothing Retail industry ranked 8th overall (out of 22 industries) in the Ask Afrika Orange Index® 2013/14 and there was an increase in service ratings from 2012 with more consistent experiences causing a decrease in dissatisfaction ratings.

Andrea Rademeyer, CEO of Ask Afrika said, “Truworths has been a winner for many years but this is the first time that they won the overall Ask Afrika Orange Index ®, in 2010 Truworths won an award for the best retailer across all emerging markets in the world.”

Michael Mark who has been the CEO of Truworths since 1991, a Director of the company since 1988 and has over 30 years of experience in the retail industry explained their winning formula, “We have a business philosophy that we developed 20 years ago, we update it, refine it and modify it, but we generally live by it. We define what our purpose is, our value system and we have a vision. We constantly ask what our most important stakeholder, our customer, would say. When they tell us what is wrong then we try and remedy it, we do not always say that the customer is king, but we say that we must listen to the customer.”

He continued, “We do not focus too much on praise as we find that the criticism can be more insightful, the philosophy of listening to the customer filters down throughout the organisation, from the buyer who must indirectly listen to what fashion the customers wants, to the assistants in the store, who are encouraged to listen to the customers, give feedback and be aware of the things that they can control. Staff are rewarded for excellent service delivery in an appropriate manner.”

Service excellence is no longer just a transactional experience. Customers are placing increasing emphasis on: trust, Humanness®, social investment, individualism, localisation and consistent service experiences. All of these dimensions have been migrated under the service umbrella which is dictated by consumers. To achieve number one status in the Ask Afrika Orange Index ® requires balanced and customer centric performance on all the dimensions.

Sarina de Beer MD of Ask Afrika commented, “The 2013/14 Ask Afrika Orange Index® Customer Service model has shifted and the dimensions customers prioritise from a service perspective have changed and expanded quite drastically over the past few years. The service expectation has migrated way beyond the transactional encounter and the companies getting the accolades for service excellence are the ones grasping this complexity and delivering on customer centricity beyond the transaction or traditional touch points.’

“Truworths was able to move their previously dissatisfied clients to being satisfied or delighted; and moved their satisfied clients to be delighted. As the Ask Afrika Orange Index® scoring is based on a combination of delighted, satisfied and dissatisfied ratings, they received the winning combination. When looking at the Clothing Retail companies, Truworths was the only company who showed a significant shift in all 3 rating categories. This is quite a significant shift as most companies are only able to either decrease their dissatisfied base, increase their satisfied base, or increase their delighted base.’

“Truworths stood out from the rest in terms of receiving the highest number of delighted customers this year, since the unique elements of customer service have been dealt with effectively and a consistent positive experience was evident spanning across a metropolitan area such as Gauteng, to the farming communities that shop in Bloemfontein. In addition, Truworths performed well on the additional dimensions that create the overall brand experience.”

Corporate social investment (CSI) is one of the key drivers influencing Humanness®, trust and ultimately retaining consumers in conjunction with solid and consistent service experiences. CSI is an important element of the Truworths Group’s transformation strategy and it has various CSI projects in place, there is a huge drive for social investment.

“Truworths has also engaged with their stakeholders on each project to understand the needs of the beneficiaries, rather than merely providing funding, thus focusing on relationship building, which is also one of the biggest drivers within social investment that creates a sense of humanness attached to the brand,” said de Beer.

Truworths has enjoyed remarkable success over the past years with many achievements, including a compound growth rate over the past five years, second place in the Ernest and Young Integrated reporting awards and eleventh position in Financial Mail’s Top Companies Awards (which compares the performance of all companies on the JHB Stock Exchange). Accolades reflect corporate success and indirectly build trust, especially amongst consumers who expect more than transactional excellence.

Truworths has satisfied customers’ desires for local relevance. Ginger Mary is another successful initiative where Truworths celebrates local heritage and pride. South Africans are placing a growing emphasis on local relevance. They are increasingly patriotic and proud to celebrate and boast with their heritage. Truworths enables this in their product offering, which also contributes to individualisation, how consumers express themselves through fashion, showcasing personal identity, which is another prominent social trend.

Truworths is not perceived as a niche, premium clothing retail brand and has shown an increase in customer satisfaction scores across all age groups as well as LSM’s. Many brands tend to focus on bigger markets in the major metropolitan areas, however in the case of Truworths customers delight scores increase in the smaller provinces as well e.g. Free State and North West. The Ask Afrika Orange Index® has illustrated that consumers living in small communities are becoming less tolerant and more critical. Truworths has a customer centric focus and has managed to create consistent service experiences across population groups, geographic areas and consumer life stages, which are critical consumer priorities at the moment. They have thus succeeded in creating broad based consumer relevance whilst still appealing to local flair.

The Ask Afrika Orange Index®, with its meticulous research and expert collaboration, provides the foundation for in-depth discussions on service trends and diagnostics in the South African corporate and consumer landscape. This benchmark is known for its singular breadth. The Ask Afrika Orange Index® customer satisfaction benchmark has investigated the South African customer service market since 2001. The benchmark not only has commercial value, but also trending value with a 13 year history coupled with diagnostic value to pinpoint problems and success stories across the full customer service value spectrum.

In terms of the research methodology, the fieldwork has been conducted via face-to-face and telephonic interviews over a 6-month period from February to July 2013. There were 30 000 responses which is representative of the South African population, reflecting benchmarked South African consumer data sources such as the Target Group Index SA (TGI SA), Stats SA and AMPS. The Ask Afrika Orange Index® is independent, no client lists are used for interviews and it benefits from its extensive sample size. The questionnaire is relevant, being annually updated for local consumer trends and the scope is comprehensive. Trend diagnostics and forecasting are based on sophisticated statistical analyses and service excellence expertise.

Please watch the BDTV interview with Michael Mark and Sarina de Beer:  

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