Service in Singapore


It seems a daily occurrence to hear about our friends’ frustrations with customer service in Singapore – eternal waiting on customer service hotlines, restaurants that make us question why we’re paying service tax, and airlines that sassily take off before schedule.

True enough, service disasters can happen when your stars simply do not align. But once you step back to see the bigger picture, it’s heartening to note how much the industry has progressed. Today, waiting for a table is less pesky with SMS notification systems, and online inventories can save you a wasted trip to the mall.

Businesses are stepping up their game with training, technology, customization based on guest’s needs, and the Singapore Service Excellence Medallion (SSEM) was launched to commend these businesses. The best part? If you have been impressed by their service, you can now show your support for the SSEM finalists and vote for them here!

We took a look at 4 nominated finalists of SSEM 2015, whose practices will surprise you.


Epitome of Service Excellence  


1. DBS – Innovative and Seamless, Because Time Is Money


Banks and their snakey queues are fun! Said no one ever. Especially not this DBS branch. Unlike most banks, DBS’ flagship branch at Marina Bay Financial Centre is so futuristic it looks like an Apple store. Besides having fancy aesthetics, it’s incredibly functional too.

Here is why it’s amazing:

b2ap3_thumbnail_chosenssem-4.JPG1. SMS “Q” App

Like most queue notification systems, DBS’ SMS “Q” app is foolproof. Get a number, then wait for an SMS before you make your way there. And guess what? – The app even comes with a Q-cam so you can find out the queue “situation” before heading there!
b2ap3_thumbnail_chosenssem-5.JPG2. Consultation Pods

SMS “Q” isn’t the only thing that’ll reduce waiting time. There are areas of the branch dedicated to specific transactions. Customers requiring advisory services can sit in these awesome pods pictured above. These pods are integrated with teller assist units and card embossers, serving as a one-stop service center.
b2ap3_thumbnail_chosenssem-1.JPG3. Mobile Client Service and Home Connect App

DBS launched the mobile client service on tablets for relationship managers who meet up with customer’son the go. This programme analyses a customer’s risk profile and product suitability thus allowing DBS to customise their offerings for their customer’s. It’s also game-changing for people who hate paperwork.

Additionally, DBS’s Home Connect app is a value-added service that enables users to search, plan, and budget for their new homes. It now has more than 30,000 downloads, allowing the bank to identify and serve their customer’s needs with greater efficiency.
b2ap3_thumbnail_chosenssem-2.JPG4. iPads everywhere!

During peak hours when a short wait is inevitable, DBS makes sure its customers are kept occupied. iPads are everywhere in this branch, loaded with magazines, news, and games to keep customers entertained. Oh, I feel that it’s my duty to inform parents out there that I saw Angry Birds on it.

Key Takeaway: With technology, DBS has developed an innovative and customer-centric service flow. Initiatives like the consultation pods and state-of-the-art applications like the Mobile Service Client both streamline procedures and truly personalise a customer’s experience.

Show your support and vote now for your favourite finalist organisations of the Singapore Service Excellence Medallion. Vote here.


2. Food Playground – Cooking Classes With A Personal Touch


b2ap3_thumbnail_chosenssem-10.JPGHoused in an unsuspecting shophouse along Sago Street, Food Playground is possibly more original than most establishments in Chinatown. The cooking school caters to tourists and corporate events, but mainly the former. It is such a niche market; how many tourists would wish to learn cooking in Singapore? Perhaps the great service here is one of the reasons why tourists keep coming back for more.

This is why I loved it:

b2ap3_thumbnail_chosenssem-9.JPG1. A local touch

Cooking classes are taught by stay-at-home mums and retirees, not professional cooks. It explains why lessons are peppered with personal anecdotes, sharing of family recipes, and everyday stories from a Singaporean’s perspective. Why are cars so expensive here? What does *alamak* mean? It’s genuine and unfiltered, a rare quality in any industry.
b2ap3_thumbnail_chosenssem-8.JPG2. Communal classes

When I was there, 2 groups of Australian and Vietnamese tourists were having fun together, filling the shophouse with a special kind of coziness. Through simple homemade dishes, they learned about what the typical Singaporean eats at home – there’s nothing more authentic than that.
b2ap3_thumbnail_chosenssem-7.JPG3. Customer-centric service

Staff are happy to customize the menus for you.If you have any dietary restrictions, they will tailor their recipes so you won’t feel left out. To accommodate impromptu plans, classes can be booked 12 hours before commencement. As long as there are at least 2 participants, the class will go on!

Key Takeaway: Nothing says happy patrons like the joyous chatter and laughter ringing from the kitchen. Most culinary lessons are conducted by esteemed chefs, but the stay-at-home mums’ at Food Playground gives the class life and character. Coupled with a collaborative touch, The Food Playground offers one of the warmest, sincere and personal experience a tourist can hope to have.


3. FotoHub – Innovation That Makes Your Life Easier


Fotohub shows us how one shop can offer an extensive variety of products, some so innovative that I haven’t seen them elsewhere. This is coupled with their exceptional service standards and the ability to use technology to deliver solutions that meet customer needs.

This is why I enjoyed the experience:

b2ap3_thumbnail_chosenssem-14.JPG1. Innovative Technologies

The FotoBook is FotoHub’s alternative to the photo albums from the nineties. FotoHub has developed an all-in-one software, FotoIdeas, an easy-to-use application that allows anyone to customize and design a FotoBook. While this is available for download on their website, it’s also loaded onto the desktops in their physical stores. It doesn’t matter if you have a staggering lack of Photoshop skills. When designing your FotoBook, the staff is happy to guide you along with their expertise.
b2ap3_thumbnail_chosenssem-12.JPGb2ap3_thumbnail_chosenssem-11.JPG2. Private and Fast Experience

Gone are the days of waiting a week to develop film. And although there are instant print kiosks peppered all across the island, sometimes it’s painful to wait for your turn while the user in front prints 346921 photos. And when it’s your turn, you’ll get curious, intrusive stares on your screen. Boundaries, aunty!
b2ap3_thumbnail_150304.jpgFotoHub’s express print system solves these problems. You can print and pay for photos at home and wait for an SMS notification before collecting them physically. And if you’re at the store, you can transfer large files via FotoHub’s wifi network. These web and in-store facilities present a one stop service for you to co-create your preferred experience to preserve your memories through photographs!

Key Takeaway: The needs of consumers are ever-evolving, and patrons are no longer visiting digital imaging service shops just to develop 4R photos. I’m impressed by how Fotohub has stayed relevant by offering a range of user-friendly and fuss-free products and services. Thanks to their constant innovation, customers can now order prints from the comfort of their couches and put together a personalized gift within hours!

Show your support and vote now for your favourite finalist organisations of the Singapore Service Excellence Medallion. Vote here.


4. RWS – Immaculate Service at Your Command


For a day, I experienced 2 of RWS’ world-class establishments – Crockfords Towers and Ocean Suites.

This is why they were amazing:
Crockfords Tower

b2ap3_thumbnail_dscn3863__copy__1024.png1.Themed rooms

Crockfords Towers is exclusive and invitation-only, one of the 2 RWS hotels with a butler service. This particular mansion (as the rooms here are called) is Arabian-themed. The shisha bongs you see here were once functional, but are now only for display.
b2ap3_thumbnail_chosenssem-18.JPG2. They remember your preferences

The lavish, impressive rooms come with touch-screen remotes, a television on the toilet mirror, as well as pillow and bath menus. The finer details are recorded and kept track of, like your favorite fruits, alcohol, and even pillow type. When you return to Crockfords Tower for subsequent visits, you’ll feel right at home.
b2ap3_thumbnail_chosenssem-20.JPG3. Ask and you shall be given

The team of 30 butlers at Crockfords have fulfilled requests for tea sets, steamboat set-ups, Bak Kut Teh, herbs, karaoke systems, and even a treadmill. Said treadmill was later removed when the guest felt like doing Zumba instead.
b2ap3_thumbnail_chosenssem-16.JPGThe butlers of Crockfords are trained to be versatile at indulging guests’ impromptu whims and fancies. As long as it’s legal, they’re happy to do it. Pictured above is Nicholas Wong, an exceptional butler with Crockfords!

Ocean Suites


1. Multi-Talented Divers

The room is mind-blowingly beautiful, complemented by RWS’ thoughtfulness. The divers in the aquarium dress up for occasions like Christmas and Easter while feeding the fish. We hear they once performed a dragon dance routine, and even helped to pull off a proposal!

2. Personal butler service

The Ocean Suites are a distance away from RWS Central, but the butler service will make arrangements to pick guests up in a buggy. With a view like this, guests will never want to leave the room – and they don’t have to. Like Crockford’s Tower, the butlers have everything covered so you’ll only get out of bed to eat and shower.

RWS Staff are also encouraged to come up with creative ideas based on their interactions with guests and are empowered to effect the change instead of following standard SOP thus enhancing the overall experience for all guests!

Key Takeaway: If not for its extraordinary service, the most beautiful hotel and its world-class facilities will count for nothing. It took only an hour’s preview of RWS’s butler service to blow me away, and I’m amazed by the hotel’s efforts in understanding their guests and accommodating their requests.

Show your support and vote now for your favourite finalist organisations of the Singapore Service Excellence Medallion. Vote here.


Cast your vote for SSEM 2015!


Service has nothing to do with a company’s scale. With technology, a large business like DBS can reform and streamline its service flow. At the other end of the spectrum, with a warm human touch, a small social enterprise like Food Playground gives tourists a homely part of Singapore to remember us by. 

By giving recognition when it’s due, we’ll sustain a culture of providing exceptional service. The Singapore Service Excellence Medallion was launched to honor organisations and individuals who have inspired a transformation in the local service industry and raised the bar in service excellence. Your appreciation will go a long way in making a difference, and the end result wil l be better service standards for everyone.

To vote for your preferred finalists of the Singapore Service Excellence Medallion, vote here.

This post was brought to you by the Singapore Service Excellence Medallion.

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