How Camp Australia is optimising the customer journey

First CMO at the helm, Tom Dusseldorp, reveals the childcare provider’s steps towards digital transformation

As Camp Australia’s first-ever CMO, Tom Dusseldorp, is on a journey to help lead the traditional 30-year-old bricks and mortar business deeper into the world of digital.

Camp Australia provides before and after school care for kids aged five to 12 across 800 schools across Australia. Dusseldorp said the company recently brought on a new COO, CFO and HR director, as well as a refreshed executive team, in a bid to take it to the next level and reframe its thinking and approach to market. 

Dusseldorp told CMO he’s on a mission to further digitise the organisation and optimise the customer journey in order to “smooth out the tension points” and make it a much more approachable care type. Alongside this, safety is a core priority, which ultimately leads to better customer experiences for both children and parents thanks to its focus on transparency and clarity.

“The mantra behind the business of Camp Australia is how do we optimise our customer journey through every touchpoint to make what already is quite a stressful experience just far easier, far more relaxed and far more safe and comfortable,” he said.  

To that end, the organisation is launching a new proprietary online platform, dubbed OneChild, that lives on a tablet and allows for seamless check-in and check-out of children in care.   

“It will be able to monitor the movement of children across different zones so when a child or a group goes to play outside, for example, you can catalogue and mark where the movement of kids are within the service, which helps provide more oversight as to where they are and when,” Dusseldorp explained.  

“It will also be able to, in the future, provide more connectivity for parents. It could be utilised as an alert system to parents to send them a push notification to say, ‘Your child has arrived at care and checked in safe and sound’. Because there’s a bit of a tension point that parents don’t know whether the child has made it to care... It is something we live with, but the reality is we don’t really need to anymore.”

Tom Dusseldorp
Tom Dusseldorp


Dusseldorp also has to constantly consider how safety factors into the equation, a situation that he admitted he didn’t fully appreciate when joining Camp Australia.

“Everything is structured around delivering one core factor and that’s safety. Safety is about the location and transfer and the duty of care of children, so when it hands from the school to us, or from us to the school,” he said.   “So how do we optimise those situations digitally to make them more secure, more transparent? How do we digitise the reporting so you get better analytics, better insight into what’s happening at a service level for us to be able to then mobilise groups of people to be able to train, report and interact?”

Formerly marketing chief at Freedom Foods, Dusseldorp said already it’s been an interesting ride to go from an FMCG business to a uniquely Australian services business over the last six months.  

“The new role is quite different. The Freedom Foods journey was three years, where I was really setting up the business with innovation-led growth. And it got to a point where the organisation was starting to hit some really good run rates from arranging and selling proposition,” he said. “There wasn’t as much demand on a CMO role at the organisation.

"That’s when I was approached by Camp Australia to try and lead another transformation in terms of a business overhaul.”

Dusseldorp said the before and after child care space is one that requires a lot of transparency and enhanced customer service.

“It’s a category with a very high consumer need base. You also have that huge melting pot of government oversight, government funding, regulation, measurement and evaluation,” he commented.  

“It’s a really interesting, challenging category and I find the sector really resonates with me. I find it a very emotive space. The service we provide is an extension of parents - quite literally. And at the same time, we’re balancing our delivery of the extension of the school and learning outcomes and all of the things that come with school-based learning.”

Regardless, as a brand the ambition has to be putting the customer first.

“My function is to be the voice of the consumer and to always put them at the heart of any decision we make, or any strategic direction we take,” Dusseldorp said. The difference in this role is that I have a very real day-to-day interaction with my customers. I look after the customer care team and I hear it and I deal with those calls and speak to those parents and try to understand how I can optimise that experience every day.

“From an FMCG background, that’s a very different approach from product development and distribution, and our relationship with retailers. In that case, you are quite removed from your end customer in a number of ways. And you only hear from your customer if there’s a major complaint or a product issue. But now it’s real-time and we’re constantly innovating and changing the way we interact with parents on a daily basis. It’s a very regular rhythm.”

As such, he’s working on delivering more structure and strategy in terms of segmenting the overall customer base and recognising the individual needs of parents.

“Different schools have different agendas. Different areas have different objectives they want to hit, so how do we apply that segmentation to get a more bespoke product that makes us more relevant, and makes us more sticky? And keeps us in a school longer, or gets us into more schools.”  

Transforming the business    

And Camp Australia comes from a traditional bricks and mortar services-based background, digital is playing a huge part in the way the team interacts with customers and builds awareness.

“We provide a lot of booking and management structures online for parents, and everything we do to communicate with them is driven digitally. So it’s a very big CRM approach,” Dusseldorp said. “It’s all about EDMs and updated content and letting parents know where and when they can interact with us - when either a ‘need or a wants-based’ requirement comes up.”  

In addition to focusing on the database, Dusseldorp is working to determine how the organisation can continue to better optimise the online experience for parents to make it easier to book and manage bookings. Prior to his arrival, the group had put a huge amount of time and investment in developing a back-end IT platform that allows the organisation to manage a huge amount of kids and staff at quite short notices.

This proprietary software is the beating heart of the organisation. “It’s the ability for me to drill down into a parent and child account to either resolve an issue, to make a booking, and to support in any way that I can through our online portals - and minimising paper,” he said.  

Additionally, the IT platform has removed a lot of the rigour of having to deal with time-consuming tasks such as billing and processing accounts, and has now enabled Camp Australia to focus more on programming and spending time with kids.

Looking ahead, Dusseldorp saw an opportunity to bring on-board wearable technology for use by educators and coordinators. He also looked to cameras that live stream or safety cameras that record all interactions to make sure there’s absolute clarity and security and safety.

“There’s a whole spectrum of things that we could build off one child that starts to become effectively the safest and most transparent childcare business in the country, if not the world,” he said.  

“These are the sorts of aspirations we can leverage off of our proprietary software that no other care organisation can, which really gets me quite excited about the longer term vision as to what we would expect from the care of our most vulnerable people.”  

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

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