In focus: Alyasra Foods
3 years ago by Usman Ghani
In an exclusive interview with CustomerService.ae, Mohamed Samir, the CEO at Alyasra Foods talks about the focus on product quality and customer service excellence. He also highlights his company’s customer feedback processes, the importance of staff training and how he sees the food industry changing in post COVID-19 times.
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“We approach customers with a multi-functional foodservice team”
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your company and the products that you provide?
Mohamed: Alyasra Foods is one of the leading food solutions and distribution companies based out of Kuwait with a footprint across Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and more recently UAE. Over the past 30+ years, Alyasra has built a reputation for servicing customers across all trade channels with a combination of quality products sourced from all across the world. In a nutshell, we are able to service our customer needs across most of the food categories especially in the temperature controlled environment, ambient, chilled and frozen.
Q: What do you think sets you apart from your competitors in the food service industry?
Mohamed: Alyasra Foods is synonymous with world renowned brands, great product quality, superior customer service excellence and most importantly our ability to source products from across the world that could be unique to certain customers. We service our customers both in the B2B and B2C segments with product, knowledge and training that enables our customers to in turn grow their businesses with quality and efficiency. We approach customers with a multi-functional foodservice team including even a chef to increase our product differentiation and profitability of customers.
Q: How do you analyze changing customer preferences and how do you ensure these are incorporated within the company philosophy?
Mohamed: As they say, customer is the king and in our business model, it is only apt that we continually listen to their needs, through our excellent in-market sales force, and consistent reviews with customers via feedback and surveys. Our organization is built on the pillars of excellence and integrity whereby we ensure that we respect and accept customer feedback & choices to evolve in an ever changing business world both in products as well as in our service. We renew our offerings every 6 to 12 months to offer the latest innovations in food.
Q: What are your feedback mechanisms to assess customer satisfaction with your products?
Mohamed: We have an in-market sales team that meets regularly with customers. Our sales management teams also spend considerable time in the market meeting key customers. We also conduct periodic surveys which give us quite an in-depth understanding of the customers and their needs.
Q: Can you share with us some corporate social responsibility initiatives taken by Alyasra Foods?
Mohamed: Despite being at the forefront of CSR, we believe in keeping a low profile and letting our work speak. We partner with government bodies, charity organizations also focusing on community focused initiatives. Safe Food-Safe Family was one of the finest initiatives we had undertaken to educate community households on healthy food and lifestyle. We are also involved in many charity initiatives.
Q: What steps do you take to offer good customer support to your clients throughout the buying process?
Mohamed: Alyasra believes in innovation be it in product or technology that would create a better experience for the customer. We have a team comprising of in-market sales professionals, category focused experts as well as a team of professional chefs who work together to enable a customer to understand product, solution and advantages. Throughout the buying process and beyond, our teams make it a point to be a part of the solution and thus give the customer much needed support and confidence that they are taken care of.
Q: How often do you conduct trainings for your staff and what are the key soft skills that you focus on?
Mohamed: In today’s world it is imperative that we develop employees through continual learning as this creates a mutually beneficial relationship for the organization and associate. Our learning and development strategy is aligned with strategic business objectives thus ensuring that we have a capable and scalable team. We moved into e-learning which makes it much easier to impart and share knowledge across the entire organization. While we used to focus more on the technical competencies, we are now moving towards developing soft-skills such as leadership, sales management, service excellence, communication and influencing skills.
Q: What kind of loyalty programs do you offer?
Mohamed: Our focus has mostly been on B2B wherein we have negotiated prices and volumes keeping long term interests in mind. With Omni-channel turning to be a key player, we are reevaluating all options and will develop a new loyalty program for all our customers.
Q: What kind of technology and smart services have you deployed in order to provide a better customer experience?
Mohamed: We continually adapt to newer technologies and services for our customers. Our warehousing infrastructure and technology used, the new temperature controlled trucks for delivery, transportation tracking devices, our B2C online application, customer service technology have all been implemented in recent months. We are focusing on more automation and digitization of our services internally to create efficiency and externally to create a greater experience for our customers. Our next initiative is a B2B online ordering platform which builds on our current telesales.
Q: How has COVID-19 impacted your business and in your opinion, how do you see this pandemic changing the food service industry?
Mohamed: The impact of COVID-19 is not limited to a country or business type. For a food service organization, the impact is even more due to the restrictions and lockdowns that drastically impact customer footfall into food outlets. The way business will be conducted in a post COVID-19 environment will be radically different to the previous times. This being said, we see great opportunity to accelerate business through our online platform. People would expect ready-to-eat, half-cooked and do-it-yourself food kits which would enable them to have a similar experience as that in a food joint within the confines of their home. Of course humans being social animals will still look at dine-in as a channel to meet, socialize and celebrate life.
Q: What products do you plan to introduce in the coming years to meet your customers’ demands?
Mohamed: Alyasra Foods has always been on the frontline with regard to new products, health focus, organic and a total-solution based approach. With this background, we have brought in new ranges of organic, dairy, meat, seafood and are on the lookout for newer options which are needed to service the market.
About Mohamed Samir
Mohamed Samir is currently working as the Executive Chairman and Group CEO, Alyasra and till mid 2018 he was the President, India, Middle East and Africa (IMEA), Selling & Market Operations, P&G. In addition, Mohamed serves on the boards of Eastern Company in Egypt and Al-Safi Danone Board in Saudi. He is also a part of the Advisory board of the AUC Business School.