Monday, February 22, 2010

Versatile Jenny

With the subject of productivity now back in vogue -- and constantly on my mind even when I am abroad -- I was suitably impressed by a service staff whom I met while holidaying with a group of friends on Mactan Island, Cebu, in the Philippines last week.

Her name is Jenny and she works for Plantation Bay, a five-star resort that was recently listed as one of the top 25 resorts in Asia by Conde Nast Traveller Magazine. In fact, she holds down two jobs -- one, as a full-time waitress at its food outlets in the day and, the other, as a lounge singer for three or four nights each week.

The wonderful thing about Jenny was her demeanour. She looked as perky at breakfast time in the morning as she was at the lounge the night before belting away those Broadway hits.

We guessed that she was in her late 20s. After listening to her sing for two nights in a row, one of my friends said she "is 100 times better than our Singapore idols".

There is no doubt that Jenny is a talented singer. But what impressed me most was her work regime. On nights when she had to sing as well, I think she would easily log in at least a 15-hour day.

Apart from her long hours at work, I am sure she must also be investing whatever she has of her own time to practise her singing and widening her repertoire of songs.

In my book, that's productivity. But, more importantly, Jenny is also enjoying her work for which she is being rewarded -- she gets two cheques come payday.

A BOUQUET for Jenny!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Those disappearing cabbies

My friend, Anne Wong, has another complaint. This time it has to do with taxis...or rather, the disappearing taxis.

Here's her grouse:

"I am old but NOT that old as not to notice things and not speak up!

Really, WHAT GIVES when it comes to taxis in Singapore?

I bumped into two friends at Hong Kong Airport just the other day and we were all bemoaning the difficulty in hailing a taxi in Singapore.

Tonight, Feb 9, my husband, a friend and I tried to hail a taxi along Claymore Road, not too far from Orchard Road's infamous 'entertainment' area when we were ignored by taxis with red roof-lights, green roof-lights and no roof-lights (I cannot vouch for the lattermost as we had just enjoyed a convivial dinner). Some sped up as we (two Caucasian men and one Singaporean Chinese) waved our arms.

Yet, when we walked on to the taxi-stop near Orchard Towers, there were taxis galore.

One - driven by a man in a turban - was even being slapped roundly on its boot and bonnet in a friendly way by an amiable but somewhat sloshed Aussie. What was even more interesting was the exchange of rather ripe epithets between the "bhai" driver and the Aussie passenger!

Anyway, as our French visitor hopped into a taxi, we peered at the driver (who looked earnest and eager) and reassured our friend that he was in clean, green and SAFE Singapore.

But back to my point, which is: WHY is it impossible to hail a taxi of whatever roof-light colour just around the corner and not more than 200 metres away when there are lots of them near Orchard Towers?

One of my friends later said this is what comes from living in a red light district.

Well, I can only say that days of the discriminating cabby have not passed on...

Faridah's devotion to duty stands out at NTUC Finest

Long queues, inadequate counter-manning and slow clearance at retail outlets continue to be a frequent complaint that I have been getting from my friends.

Here's another one...from Anne Wong:

"We were shopping at NTUC Finest at Bukit Timah Plaza this afternoon (February 9) when we attempted to check out on the upper floor. We found that every check-out counter had a CLOSED sign (some were serving their final customers). Only the counter accepting baskets was open.

When we asked for the reason, we were told that the counter staff were changing shifts!

This is the reason why taxis are hard to come by in certain countries, but it also applies to this supermart during the change of shift just before 5:00pm.

I have written to FairPrice and suggested that the staff be taught to use their initiative and change shift when there are NO customers waiting to be served. They do not have to change shifts all at the SAME time.

Supermarkets and shops abroad page for staff to man the till when it is busy. They do NOT all close down at the same time - like the PRC Immigration Counters at Shenzhen in the old days when it was their dinnertime.

And even they have improved!

However, I would like to commend one member of your check-out staff. When we were left stranded because the other check-outs were in the process of changing shift, Faridah Abd (name on tag) kept her counter open and attended to us. We had an overflowing trolley and it was 4:59pm.

Now SHE has an instinct for customer service, unlike the young kids who were in charge of the other check-outs."

For her devotion to duty, Faridah deserves a BOUQUET. But it has to be a BOO-QUET for
the rest of her check-out colleagues.

**** LATEST NTUC FairPrice has replied to


We refer to your feedback...

We do apologise for the experience which you had at NTUC FairPrice Bukit Timah Plaza.

We wish to assure you that we do not close counters during changing of shifts and we have briefed all staff to ensure the correct signages are being used when they are carrying out the changes in shifts. We understand that communication is very important in customer service and our staff are reminded to try to be more proactive in attending to customers even during their changes in shifts.

At NTUC FairPrice, providing customers with good shopping experiences is one of our top priorities and we will spare no efforts to ensure that customers are served with efficiency. We are also gratified to receive your appreciation of Ms Faridah's good customer service and she had been notified of the compliment.

Thank you for highlighting this matter to our attention and we look forward to serving you better.

We wish you and your family a Happy and Prosperous Lunar New Year!

Yours sincerely,
Debra Chang Ay Jen
Team Leader, Customer Relations
NTUC Fairprice Co-Operative Ltd"

Monday, February 8, 2010

NTUC FairPrice replies

NTUC FairPrice has replied to our feedback on the overly persistent sales pitch of
the Sea of the Spa sales people at NTUC Finest in Bukit Timah Plaza.

In its email to me today (Feb 8), it says that although it will not relocate the stall, it will however remind them not to be too persistent in its sales techniques to the point of holding up customer traffic at the entrance to the supermarket.

To read the email, scroll down to posting headlined "NTUC Finest stop-and-go"

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Quoted in The Sunday Times

The Sunday Times today (Feb 7) quoted one paragraph from one of my postings, "Slow service at SingPost", in its story on the company's move into retailing at its outlets.

Pity it did not give the URL of this blog. That would have allowed readers who wanted to find out more to go online.

However, I do get a sense of satisfaction knowing that the long queue problem at some of the SingPost outlets would have to be addressed sometime soon.

It just does not make sense to make someone wait for as long as 15 minutes if all he wants is to purchase some stamps and nothing else. His patience shouldn't be tested by SingPost trying to sell pots and pans, among other things, to its customers.