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Signature experience: Tan Kee Choong

When talking to Managing Director Tan Kee Choong, it becomes clear pretty quickly how Signature Kitchen got its name. The guiding principle behind everything he does within Malaysia’s largest kitchen manufacturer and retailer is providing a “signature experience” to the customer.

Tan Kee Choong, Managing Director of Signature Kitchen

From the design stage to the ordering, delivery and installation of new kitchens, his commitment to customer satisfaction is absolute. “We emphasise on the buying experience,” says Kee Choong.

“We’re consistently improving our operational excellence to deliver a good service experience to customers. What I believe is that we’re not just competing on products and prices – we’re talking about a focus on every touchpoint, from planning to delivery and beyond. It’s not enough just to advertise our products and prices. It’s about delivering a totally hassle-free customer experience.”

It’s no surprise that Kee Choong is so deeply invested in Signature Kitchen and its customers; in 1994, he left an executive position with a renovation company to start off Signature Kitchen with Co-Founder Dato Michael Chooi.

He’d spent enough time working in the home design sector, incorporating both technical skills and customer skills. As far as he was concerned, it was time to strike out on his own terms.

One of the ways Signature Kitchen has been able to make itself stand out is through the application of technology, which Kee Choong says he is quite passionate about.

For one, the company is currently developing an app that will allow the customer to monitor the kitchen installation processes. It will be easily accessible and will provide an important sense of transparency for customers and for Signature Kitchen itself.

Tan Kee Choong, Managing Director of Signature Kitchen

Equally innovative is the company’s order tracking system; where in the event customers heard nothing for the weeks in between ordering and delivery, the whole process is, again, communicative and open.

Ecommerce and lead generation through social media are other avenues Kee Choong is exploring, while Signature Kitchen’s contemporary European designs are available through 3D design software that provides rapid customisation and turnaround time of customers’ orders. “Lately, I’ve been focusing on information and communications technology (ICT),” he explains.

“In our business, we deal with many parties – customers, contractors, back office and production. We need to connect the information with all parties. That’s why communication is so important to us. Currently, we face a big challenge in having a centralised communication. Now I’m using this technology to connect all these parties with all necessary information.”

Communication is critical to the company’s success. Kee Choong describes the industry as one rife with challenges, and Signature Kitchen’s offerings are tough to produce. The solution, he says, is communication – in particular, the ability to listen well.

Understanding the cause and cost of problems is essential to addressing them. On the flipside, internal communication is essential to organisational success, by keeping employees focused on Signature Kitchen’s mission. “We need to be able to communicate and share the strategic direction of the company; what we’re working towards,” says Kee Choong.

“We put a strong emphasis on communication within the organisation. We want our people to be aligned with the thinking of the top management. We also want them to know the progress of everything that is happening in the company; the decision-making, and strategy from the top management. We hold a ‘town hall’ meeting every month to share with our people what we’re doing, what we’ve planned and what we’ve achieved.”

What Signature Kitchen has achieved, in the years since 1994, is market leadership in Malaysia, and a strong presence across ASEAN countries, as well as expanding to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Lebanon and the Middle East, where it has successfully completed world-class projects such as Palm Jumeirah Island in Dubai and Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.

“We are still very much specialised in the one thing that we do well, despite many opportunities to do other things.”

However, this isn’t the company’s core focus, says Kee Choong. In fact, their chief source of revenue is from working on projects within Malaysia and overseas projects in ASEAN countries. But whether working on major projects or working for individual retail customers, Signature Kitchen’s expertise lies in delivering a hassle-free buying experience for quality kitchen and wardrobes solutions, and that’s what Kee Choong intends to stick with.

“A clear mind, focus and consistency are important,” he says. “That’s why, even after 25 years, we are still very much specialised in the one thing that we do well, despite many opportunities to do other things. By focusing, we can make our products and services better and better. Therefore, we can compete, and we can be sustainable.”

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