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Customer Service in Singapore

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dessert_lover
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Postby dessert_lover » Sun, 15 Jun 2008 2:33 pm

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Waitressing isn't the most prestigious job here, unlike in Europe where being a waiter is a profession. They therefore take great pride in serving food to your tables. (However, it's NOT everywhere in Europe you get good service, let me clarify that.) Here, people simply don't give attention to the occupation.

Waiters/waitresses at an average restaurant get paid $5 to $7 an hour for what they're doing. And to ask of good service would be asking for too much. For an average of $6 an hour, who would you expect to be serving you?

However, it also depends on what restaurant it is. Lawry's for example, have very good service. And I highly suspect their employees get paid more than what your average restaurant waiter gets. Needless to say, it would cost more for the meal.

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Postby EADG » Sun, 15 Jun 2008 4:58 pm

this is a good point and one that irks me because when I want to tip I know that usually it's going to go into a pool and not to the person I want to reward who earned it

and you're right, there's better service at places that pay their staff better, like (ok I'm really going to be pegged an "expat" now) at Brewerkz or Iguana - really good service and good attitudes - you pay for that, but it's worth it sometimes

but the tipping thing again....

I've also found that the recent influx of Filipino waitstaff have in many cases really raised the service bar
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Postby road.not.taken » Sun, 15 Jun 2008 6:02 pm

The problem with customer service in Singapore is really like the perfect storm. All the points brought up here are true, and come together with an often disasterous effect. Language I think is the least of it. They are very poorly paid and receive almost no tips -- the 10% service charge is not a tip, it does not go to the wait staff. Their cultural background means getting the timing right for any western meal nearly impossible. They also insist on the buckshot approach rather than assigning a table to someone which means they must always interupt you every time they bring an item to the table to ask 'Who gets the coke?' Compared to other cities in the area, (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo)-- Singapore still comes in dead last for customer service. In a cosmopolitain, first-world city such as Singapore and others across the globe, there is only good service, and bad service really -- it doesn't matter about geography so much. A European isn't expecting European service as such -- just good service, which is right. If I'm in an expensive restaurant, trying to have a nice meal -- their waiters and waitresses should be able to:

answer questions
make simple substitutions or omissions
understand my language (if it is one of the indigenous languages) or find someone who can
bring the food out in a timely manner
understand pacing

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Postby EADG » Sun, 15 Jun 2008 6:25 pm

yes!

road.not.taken wrote:understand pacing


well said, as usual rnt

this is a point I was trying to be objective about the other night when the lady came by minutes later to clear our plates when were were barely done (and had just been asked to give us more time)

when I gently tried to explain to her to chill out and that she was making us feel rushed, it became apparent that she did not speak English, my guess was mainland Chinese, and, that she was either trying to be efficient, or, doing what she was trained to do

so what are they trained here to do, if they are trained at all?
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Postby Turtle » Mon, 16 Jun 2008 3:41 pm

road.not.taken wrote:They also insist on the buckshot approach rather than assigning a table to someone which means they must always interupt you every time they bring an item to the table to ask 'Who gets the coke?'


This actually makes a very big difference. I just got back from Canada, where in any restaurant, you get assigned a server. They take all of your orders, serve them all, keep your drinks refilled, bring your bill and pocket the tip. Not only do they know the customer a lot better (and if you're only there for 1-2 hours then they better know you very quickly), but they get the reward (tip) for their service.

Firstly it means that they have a much better chance of remembering what you like and dislike (whether you like being served regularly or left alone to take your time, no need for the customer to be asked 10 times whether they want to see the wine list), and secondly that's a lot more motivation for the server than if the tip just gets shared across all staff. Plus, the customer knows that their server is going to get the reward, so that's a reason for the customer to tip more for good service - it goes to the person who deserves it.

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Re: Customer Service in Singapore

Postby hk203 » Mon, 16 Jun 2008 4:34 pm

melly wrote:I have some degree of frustration over the quality of customer service in Singapore. Hear me out...

I think the level of courtesy and politeness of the service in Singapore is fantastic. Whenever I enter and leave a shop or restaurant, I would be acknowledged. Singapore has come a long way in this aspect of service. In the old days, you'd likely receive a frown when you leave a shop without a purchase but now you'd get "thank you" as you step out regardless.

BUT... I'm becoming more frustrated by waiters/waitresses not asking questions when they do not understand me. I don't know how many countless times have I received food that is opposite from what I requested. Anytime I ask for a slight modification on the meal, to them it seems to cause a huge complication as they would make their own assumptions. This can easily be solved by asking ME questions if they are not sure. I'm not a monster who is going to eat up anyone who asks me questions. I always try to communicate my requests as clearly as possible but I rather get asked more questions to get my order right than receiving a completely wrong order thus wasting my time.

Additionally, there seems to be lack of initiatives in customer care. For example, I would bring a vegetarian guest to a restaurant. We would advise the wait person clearly foremost of all that my guest is a vegetarian. Then we would make an order, the vegetarian nature of the order would have been confirmed first with the wait person before ordering it. And what do you know...., when the order was presented, we found minced pork.

I would very much like to see this improved. I'm not sure if posting my frustration on this forum will make any difference but I can only hope.


Are you a foreigner? Westerner I mean? If you westerner got this kind of treatment, can you imagine how their service towards us Asian?

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Re: Customer Service in Singapore

Postby andy21 » Mon, 16 Jun 2008 5:22 pm

hk203 wrote:Are you a foreigner? Westerner I mean? If you westerner got this kind of treatment, can you imagine how their service towards us Asian?


Equally bad?

I have never been one to subscribe to the whole idea that service staff in Singapore overtly fabour westerners over locals.

Don't be overly sensitive, for most cases I've seen or heard of such incidents are in fact little more than locals being over sensitive and seeing things that are not there. That they feel this way quite often is more a reflection of what they feel rather than fact.

And the people I know who feel like this, are very apt to feeling oppressed in one way or another. Oppressed at work, by peers and lots of other things. Simply toss another in the ring. And the thing is, they are not the helpless almbs they believe themselves to be, they just don't want to do a thing about it.

If you see an example of a service staff explicitly pandering to a westerner (or anyone for that matter, but it's always westerners?!), how about not standing for it in the first place? Get an explanation from someone of authority.


If it's a case of the service staff being friendlier to westerners (which is very easily perceived as favouritism), you would have to wonder why you don't get the same kind of smile wouldn't you?

If it upsets you and it won't kill you to do something about, just do it. This is an easy problem to eradicate if and when it arises. Some guilty service staff just need to understand that all customers are equal in the eyes of their profession (!!), and you won't even need to shout at them to make your point.

It's not hard to effect change. It just has to start with you.

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Postby road.not.taken » Mon, 16 Jun 2008 6:38 pm

Especially in light of the fact that they don't get tips, so why be nicer to any one group at all?

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Postby lovescatsanddogs » Tue, 17 Jun 2008 12:19 am

road.not.taken wrote:Especially in light of the fact that they don't get tips, so why be nicer to any one group at all?


It the colonial mentality that has unfortunately stuck in some locals.

I've waited patiently for my turn while the server was busy with someone else (for a good 10 mins), only to have the server turn to serve the westerner who arrived at the counter 1/2 second before he (the server) was done with the first customer.

I've also been completely ignored when I entered a shop and browsed for some time, and observed other (Asian) customers be treated the same way only to hear a bright 'How may I help you, sir?' the second a westerner entered the shop.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. It happens a lot.

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Postby banana » Tue, 17 Jun 2008 12:45 am

lovescatsanddogs wrote:
road.not.taken wrote:Especially in light of the fact that they don't get tips, so why be nicer to any one group at all?


It the colonial mentality that has unfortunately stuck in some locals.

I've waited patiently for my turn while the server was busy with someone else (for a good 10 mins), only to have the server turn to serve the westerner who arrived at the counter 1/2 second before he (the server) was done with the first customer.

I've also been completely ignored when I entered a shop and browsed for some time, and observed other (Asian) customers be treated the same way only to hear a bright 'How may I help you, sir?' the second a westerner entered the shop.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. It happens a lot.


did you take it in your stride or perhaps quietly seethe? I throw the "colonial complex" thing out a lot but sometimes, it may be that Westerners are more likely to react to what they perceive as poor service.
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Postby Turtle » Tue, 17 Jun 2008 8:00 am

lovescatsanddogs wrote:It the colonial mentality that has unfortunately stuck in some locals.


I don't know if this preference is actually racist, or more like income-ist. I've noticed among my local friends that it's considered normal to judge based on income, perceived wealth and so on - like life is a game where if you have more things, it means you're "better". Kind of explains how people treat maids, McDonalds employees, construction workers etc. It may be that people see a Westerner and figure that he's either a rich tourist or a well-paid expat. If you go into most shops, you can see a difference between how the staff treat someone in business attire, even Asians, compared to someone who looks like a university student.

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Postby lovescatsanddogs » Tue, 17 Jun 2008 10:33 am

banana wrote:did you take it in your stride or perhaps quietly seethe? I throw the "colonial complex" thing out a lot but sometimes, it may be that Westerners are more likely to react to what they perceive as poor service.


I'm not one to quietly seethe. If I'm :x , it will be known. :P

In the first instance, I simply informed the server that I had been patiently waiting for the past 10 mins.

I do not see why I should be treated like a 2nd class citizen in my own country.

Turtle wrote:It may be that people see a Westerner and figure that he's either a rich tourist or a well-paid expat. If you go into most shops, you can see a difference between how the staff treat someone in business attire, even Asians, compared to someone who looks like a university student.


I suppose that's true. I guess now we have to see how retail staff treat an Asian in business attire vs a Westerner who looks like a university student. :P

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Postby road.not.taken » Tue, 17 Jun 2008 5:20 pm

And I've been pasesd over in favor of a local -- I don't think the attitude is endemic. Just something that happens sometimes to some people, sometimes.

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Postby banana » Wed, 18 Jun 2008 12:42 am

"it all spends the same!"
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bad attuide - hougang interchange (local delights stall)

Postby trio02 » Wed, 18 Jun 2008 10:00 am

i wonder if anyone has ever encountered bad attuitude from this particular stall located inside Hougang Interchange. This stall that sells local delights, all the chinese kueys.. fried bee hoon, fish balls etc, its located just right outside the entrance of the bus interchange(beside buzz)

The first time i visited the stall was few weeks ago, there was this non local lady (PRC) serving in the stall. i stopped by and ask if the fried bee hoon was ready since it was not displayed, well she literally ignored me and i'm like ok, i might be asking stupid question since its not displayed out which means its not ready.
The 2nd time i visited the stall which makes me rather mad , as usual the non local lady was serving in the stall, i politely order my food, (the conversation was in chinese)
Me=" Hi can i have soon kueys? do you have a box instead of putting it into a plastic bag?'(well i do not have a plate in the office, and hence to place the soon kuey in a box is obviously more convienent to consume. )

Non Local Lady=, " how many do you want? (No smile on the face)

Me= "can i have 2 soon kueys, thanks"

Non Local Lady= " What! 2 and you expect to put it into a box!" (the facial reaction was like frustrated, frowning through out)

Me= " well i don't mind to pay for the box, thank you"

well i can say her facial expression was like extremely frustrated, oh come on i only ask for a box and i pay for it and my attuide wasn't bad to her and why am i getting this kinda of response? she literally throw the money change on the table and what the hell! ok fine i even ask her polietly if i could use the 2 bottles of chilli and black sauce for my soon kueys and she totally ignore me!
Ermm i can say this will be the last time i'll visit this stall, since its not the only stall that sells breakfast. A stall that is located inside the bus interchange will attracts customer since its so convience however i think no one will like to buy from the stall if the attuide is so bad.



Please do not multiple post - the other duplicate message has been deleted. Thanks

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