kong hee

(Featured Image: Source)

This post is co-written by Ms. Loh Suet Yee and Soh Wan Wei.

In our first post, we focused on how Pastor Kong Hee maintains his personal brand in a systematic manner.

In this post, we will expound on the many faces of Kong Hee. They include: Pastor, Business Guru, Design Thinker, Sales Superstar, Community Manager, Investor and Unicorn Dreamer.

Note that both posts on Kong Hee are written in a neutral manner. We are here to focus on the verifiable “what is”, not the unverifiable “what should be”. We fully acknowledge that we have incomplete information (yes, the very limited so-called “insider’s information”) and it is neither our intention nor desire to judge what is “right” or “wrong”.

We write this post because we are amazed by the fact that a man can single-handedly grow a church from nothing to 15,000 attendees over a span of 28 years. What is also clear and verifiable is the wealth Pastor Kong Hee has amassed over the years for City Harvest Church. And some might argue, for himself.

And this post seeks to examine exactly how Kong Hee contributed to City Harvest’s growth as leader of the church.

Kong Hee – The Design Thinker

From a business perspective, City Harvest Church can be seen to be highly focused on “customer experience”.

As the main pastor of the church, Kong Hee truly connected with his “customers”. He took care of what they need to hear, what they need to see, what they need to get and what they need to feel.

Because these are well taken care of, church-goers who tithe naturally think and speak well of him.

Design thinking–or putting the customer’s experience at the core of your business– is a very powerful strategy in any organization.

Simply google for “Customer Experience”, a.k.a today’s buzzword for yesterday’s concept of “Customer Service”. You will see many organisations injecting this element into their corporate DNA.

When the customer’s experience is perfected, a naturally recurring ecosystem is created. This ecosystem then generates ten or hundred times in revenue growth to any organisation.

Kong Hee – The Sales Superstar

Kong Hee is also an awesome salesman.

  • The product offering: Spiritual reassurance.
  • The killer marketing pitch: Kong Hee’s interpretation of the word of God.
  • The holistic customer experience: From place (the church), to practicality (the personal growth and support system of the churchgoers); to belief (the weekly sermons that serves to remove doubts and instil faith), Kong Hee consistently delivers excellent church-going experiences with a lot of theatrics.

Kong Hee reaches out to his City Harvest Church tribe with this holistic solution. They love the experience and returned week after week.  

If City Harvest Church were indeed a business organization, Kong Hee might well be that one superstar salesman whom the company relies on like a God (no pun intended, haha!).

If you are a business owner, we are sure that you will be pleased to have such an “A” Player in your midst!

Kong Hee – The Community Manager

Now that you have acquired the customer successfully, how can you ensure high engagement from existing customers?

Every business textbook will attest to simple headline theories like:

Happy customers = Higher Retention = Higher Referrals = Higher Customer Lifetime Value = Higher Revenue

and so on.

So exactly how did Kong Hee add value to his members to ensure a smooth recurring cycle, beyond the weekly services?

Kong Hee structured his megachurch with activities, support, education and counselling. He also took pains to cater to families and youths for talent development and personal growth. 

To engage the younger crowd which made up the base and majority of church goers, he also adorned the megachurch with fancy lighting and swanky sound systems to enhance the experience of church goers.

There are going to be plenty of articles debating why these are necessary for the purpose of worship.

We cannot deny that humans are suckers for nice things. At the very minimal, we all love that feel-good feeling of being associated with something “cool”. At a deeper level, we want to believe that we are cared for by a bigger spiritual family, and something larger than ourselves.

When we feel loved, we feel “shiok” and we will want our loved ones to feel the same. And we are then more willing to give financially to the church to maintain the well-being of this imagined family.

This is the same reason why organisations measure customer satisfaction indices, CSAT scores or NPS.

And, volia! The formula for a self sustaining business model is strengthened!

Kong Hee – The Investor

  • Sales acquisition – checked.
  • Self-sustaining business model – checked.

Any rational businessman or investor will now start to think: “why not multiply the money?”

This is the same logic your financial planners tried to knock into your head by saying, “The money sitting in your bank can only earn 0.0x% per annum. You should look at investing the money!”

So Kong Hee went on to multiply the wealth he had access to. Here are some verifiable investments City Harvest made.

And here are some verifiable investments Kong Hee and Sun Ho made.

Kong Hee – The Unicorn Dreamer

Kong Hee also fits the bill of an entrepreneur and innovator perfectly.

As the face of City Harvest Church, he found a solution that met various fundamental human needs. He employed smart use of technology to enhance experience and operations. He innovated constantly.

What he did was definitely ‘disruptive’ in terms of how huge City Harvest Church has grown, or how most churches operated. And according to some, also in terms of the number of legal, ethical and moral barriers he has broken.

Undeniably, City Harvest Church is efficient and digitally-advanced. Their website shows how technology and media are used to attract and engage churchgoers. There are even members’ log-in portals and member cards too. Tithings and donations can be collected online and there is even an option to pay it by GIRO.

The above are really very simple functions designed very beautifully for the pleasant experience of the church goers. Clearly, much thought has been placed into the design of the digital system. 

It was truly a lot of #designthinking and sheer #holytech at work!

Conclusion

When a strong personal brand is backed by a business model with a customer-centric approach, exponential growth is the result. Kong Hee definitely has many faces. We can clearly credit some part of City Harvest’s growth over the years to Kong Hee’s talents, charisma and strong personal branding, and some other parts to a customer-centric business model enjoyed by City Harvest Church.

We acknowledge that the protracted City Harvest Church trial is a highly sensitive issue because it involves “the church”, “God” and “religion”, areas where many followers seek strength and solace from. Indeed, perception is reality for some and we fully respect that.

Had he chosen another career path, Kong Hee could otherwise have become a much celebrated and hailed Singaporean entrepreneur. Food for thought, yeah?

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