Singapore Expats Forum

Customer service the Singapore way

Discuss about life in Singapore. Ask about cost of living, housing, travel, etiquette & lifestyle. Share experience & advice with Singaporeans & expat staying in Singapore.

Sponsored by:
Image
AE Logistics - Singapore Movers

User avatar
Fortan
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 466
Joined: Thu, 01 Aug 2013

Customer service the Singapore way

Postby Fortan » Wed, 09 Oct 2013 1:31 pm

Want to share another little story with you guys.

I decided to take my wife and daughter to Bintan for a few days. I normally always book hotel and transport myself but this time I thought I'd try out one of the big travel agencies and get a package. Primarily to save time (I thought).

I went to the agency and brought with me copies of our three passport. Sat down and was presented with the alternatives for going out 12th and coming back 15th and booked it - and paid. Hotel, return ferry in one package. Couldn't have been easier (I thought)...

"I will email the travel voucher to you tomorrow". Was the message I left with. Two days later, still nothing in my inbox, so I email them to hear what is going. They phone me back up and sound all confused.

Agency: "You have requested for a baby bed in your hotel room, correct?"
Me: "Yes, that's right"
Agendy: "We'll need to know your daughter's age, before we can apply for a baby bed, sir."
Me: "Well, I gave you a copy of her passport a few days ago!"
Agency: "You did?"
Me: "Yes, I did - of all 3 passports"
Agency: "Okay, I will try to find them. So how old is your daughte?r"
Me: "9 months"
Agency: "Thank you sir"

Next day, still nothing in my inbox and the next day after in the afternoon, nothing, so I send them another email. They reply that they are trying to get a confirmation for the baby bed from the hotel..... :o

Yesterday I finally receive the voucher and as I look through it, the nights at the hotel is 12-15 Oct but the ferry part of the voucher says 21-23 September 2013 ](*,)

I phone them up and ask them how I am supposed to travel on a ferry 20 days ago. They of course didn't understand my question and I explain it to them and the reply is: "Don't worry. When you get to the ferry terminal they will know your voucher dates are not correct but they will let you travel anyway. It is the dates of the hotel that counts on the voucher."

I insisted on having it changed and today I finally received my travel voucher with correct travel dates. I am still to get a confirmation on the baby bed and is just wondering what else might go wrong from here on....

I guess it would actually be funny, if it wasn't for the fact that I have wasted loads of time using an agency. Which I went to in the first place to save time.... perhaps I should add that it is one of the biggest agencies here, so quite surprised with the stupidity I have been met with :D

User avatar
ScoobyDoes
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1665
Joined: Wed, 29 Nov 2006
Location: A More Lucky Spot

Postby ScoobyDoes » Wed, 09 Oct 2013 2:16 pm

I booked a trip to Bali last month with a big online agent......Airfare & Hotel for three.

When i tried to complete the booking online there was an issue relating to entering my son's birthday. I still think it was an issue relating to the fact that the trip and his birthday were within a few days of each other and the site couldn't quite handle it.

Anyway, quick chat with the helpline suggested I book by saying my son is 7yrs old instead of 6yrs, at the time. Helpdesk said 'Well, it's only for issuing the vouchers, the DoB/Passport is what is used by the airline, and you'll have a seat anyway.....so no problem.'

Being 50:50 on it I decided to run with it an........ sure enough, no problem.

A bit Heath Robinson but in the end I think there has grown an element of flexibility on all systems nowadays because nobody can get anything right.
'When Lewis Hamilton wins a race he has to thank Vodafone whereas in my day I used to chase the crumpet. I know which era I'd rather race in.'

SIR Stirling Moss OBE

User avatar
Fortan
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 466
Joined: Thu, 01 Aug 2013

Postby Fortan » Wed, 09 Oct 2013 2:53 pm

I am still puzzled as to why they need my daughters age when I specifically asked for a baby bed. How old do they think a baby is? :shock:

User avatar
Wd40
Director
Director
Posts: 3936
Joined: Tue, 04 Dec 2012
Location: SIndiapore

Postby Wd40 » Wed, 09 Oct 2013 8:15 pm

I would never use agency to book for me, to save time. To save money? may be.

Having an agency in b/w is a sure way of causing errors, miscommunication etc.

Also moneywise, agencies most often are more expensive. Especially since its always per person cost.

The only time I found going through agency to be profitable is for Star Cruise. I went with Five Stars Tours and booked it at their Century Square Tampines branch. They were running a promotion. They didn't do any goof up, I must say, everything went smooth.

BedokAmerican
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 436
Joined: Tue, 15 Jan 2013

Postby BedokAmerican » Wed, 09 Oct 2013 9:58 pm

It's really sad that they call this "customer service" when there often isn't much service at all. The person you speak to will tell you one thing, then the next day someone else who works for the same business will tell you something else. People make up stuff as they go along and will tell you what they think you want to hear. I dread making phone calls to ask about anything because it's so hard getting direct answers.

User avatar
x9200
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 9320
Joined: Mon, 07 Sep 2009
Location: Singapore

Postby x9200 » Thu, 10 Oct 2013 10:16 am

You have to live with it. There is no other way. It basically mean that if you want to have something done well you have to do it by yourself. It is practically about any type of the services and sale. From my personal experience the chances you find a professional service is less then 1%. This fraction is higher for more fancy restaurants and such.

User avatar
sundaymorningstaple
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 35184
Joined: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Location: Still Fishing!
Contact:

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 10 Oct 2013 1:34 pm

Service is excellent at Halia at the Botanical Gardens. In fact, I daresay it's the best service I've ever had at any restaurant in Singapore. I was there for dinner last Sunday evening. Additionally, the food was excellent (and a treat if you are into well created fusion foods).

It is rather expensive, however. But the food and the service made up for it. The next time, however, I think I'll opt for outdoor seating in the Ginger Garden if after Sunset as the Aircon was a bit too cold for my liking.

User avatar
x9200
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 9320
Joined: Mon, 07 Sep 2009
Location: Singapore

Postby x9200 » Thu, 10 Oct 2013 4:40 pm

We were once served by a guy bringing us glasses of champagne 30 min after last call during champagne brunch at Fullerton. He did it secretly. Nothing can beat it.

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Postby JR8 » Thu, 10 Oct 2013 5:06 pm

x9200 wrote:We were once served by a guy bringing us glasses of champagne 30 min after last call during champagne brunch at Fullerton. He did it secretly. Nothing can beat it.


It's interesting isn't it, how staff using their initiative, their individuality, is what you notice and remember. Esp when they're giving you free stuff hehe.

I had a similar experience from a barman at the Meridian/Orchard (c25 years ago).

At a cost of $5-10 to the hotel, see, I'm still talking about it today*... :)


* I even still recall his name, Ozman!


---------------------------
Edit for clarity: The Meridien chain appears to have been rebranded as the 'Concorde hotel' chain. Either way it's on the right side of Orchard heading north, b/w The Istana, and Orchard Plaza...
Last edited by JR8 on Fri, 11 Oct 2013 12:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

BoroBoy
Regular
Regular
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri, 27 Mar 2009

Postby BoroBoy » Thu, 10 Oct 2013 5:09 pm

I thought customer service in Singapore was bad until I moved to the middle east. The service here is shocking. Today I phoned my local private hospital to book a medical test:
receptionist : "What"
me: "oh hello are you open today"
receptionist : "Of course we are open I am answering the phone. Do you think I would answer the phone if we were not open."
me "haha ok thanks, anyway can I book an appointment ... "
receptionist : "can you call back in 20 mins I am eating my lunch" </hangup>

I wasnt surprised or angry, its just normal. Be grateful for your singapore training, it could be worse! :-)

User avatar
Max Headroom
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 643
Joined: Wed, 08 May 2013
Location: Singapore
Contact:

Postby Max Headroom » Thu, 10 Oct 2013 6:07 pm

The other day I was having a longish call with my bank in Europe. When we were done and I'd hung up, it hit me: The conversation I'd had with the lady at the other end was so... pure, so clear, so without having to interpret what she may have been meaning to say.

I was able to speak freely without worrying whether she could follow me, and I instantly understood what she was saying. Our dialogue was like hitting one bulls-eye after the other. We never had to back-track. I never needed to ask the same question in progressively simpler terms until she got it. The amount of static was nil. It was awesome.

The problem here in Singapore is that, by and large, communication is too much hit or miss. The language used is what I call largest-common-denominator-speak, which just won't cut it when you need all subtleties to be conveyed 100%. It's too crude; the gist gets through, sure, but not the nuances. Which is why there are so many cock-ups in, for instance, the travel industry.

I never ask 2 questions in the same email or SMS, because, without fail, I'll get the second one answered but not the first one. I always ask one question, wait for the reply, then ask my next question. Communication here is below par.

Not blaming anyone in particular of course. I mean, it's what happens when you chuck different peoples, cultures and mother tongues together. The defacto language of choice is bound not to be ideal.

User avatar
x9200
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 9320
Joined: Mon, 07 Sep 2009
Location: Singapore

Postby x9200 » Thu, 10 Oct 2013 8:53 pm

Max Headroom wrote:I never ask 2 questions in the same email or SMS, because, without fail, I'll get the second one answered but not the first one. I always ask one question, wait for the reply, then ask my next question. Communication here is below par.

+1 I do exactly the same.
Also I had to give up my habit of explaining the problem in sufficient details so other party have enough data to proceed. This never works. They will still ask generic, irrelevant questions even having the case served clean on the plate right in front of their eyes.

PrimroseHill
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 368
Joined: Tue, 13 Dec 2011

Postby PrimroseHill » Fri, 11 Oct 2013 9:44 am

hahaha, with email queries, I now then to have numbering systems.
Customer services wise - yeah there had been quite a bit hit and miss.
Misses
1. Holland V - Italian restaurant - vongole came without the pasta? :o then the clams were gritty. The waiter in fairness took that off the bill and offered us 20% of the total bill.
2. Brunetti's - the brunch. Overcooked, stuck to the little pans they served it on, taste awful and looked awful.
3. Buona Vista - Boston thingy place. This is common and I dont understand this in SG. Plates of food never come together. I got my food some 20mins before my colleague, her food then sat up on the counter for another 10mins before a waitress after chatting served her which by then was stone cold.

Did well.
1. Decided to go to Bali last minute during CNY this year. Changi packed. However, more counters were open to cope with the number of travellers.

2. Mom use Firefly and without fail, they alway provide assistance here.

Steve1960
Editor
Editor
Posts: 1106
Joined: Mon, 13 Aug 2012
Location: Singapore

Postby Steve1960 » Fri, 11 Oct 2013 10:00 am

Max Headroom wrote:The other day I was having a longish call with my bank in Europe. When we were done and I'd hung up, it hit me: The conversation I'd had with the lady at the other end was so... pure, so clear, so without having to interpret what she may have been meaning to say.

I was able to speak freely without worrying whether she could follow me, and I instantly understood what she was saying. Our dialogue was like hitting one bulls-eye after the other. We never had to back-track. I never needed to ask the same question in progressively simpler terms until she got it. The amount of static was nil. It was awesome.



Wasn't a UK bank then where you get routed to a call centre in the Philippines or India!!! I have easier conversations with banks here in Singapore :-(

User avatar
Fortan
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 466
Joined: Thu, 01 Aug 2013

Postby Fortan » Fri, 11 Oct 2013 10:04 am

Talking about great experiences and turning away from the subject a little.

MELT The World Cafe at Oriental Mandarin. NEVER lets me down. The staff is attentive and great. I love the 88$ dinner buffet which is offered together with a 20$ package of free flow of beer, red- and white wine. Goes from 6pm to 11pm as far as I remember. I can't say how many times I have been there and been served beers or wine as they are closing down the place, which often takes until 12.30. Extra service is indeed what you remember.


  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “Staying, Living in Singapore”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest