Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Quarterly reporting -- April to June

It's quarterly reporting time again. As expected, a mixed bag of responses -- good, bad and indifferent -- were received from shops, eateries and institutions that were criticised or praised for their excellent service or lack of.

In the month of APRIL, I was particularly impressed with OCBC, Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS), C K Tang, Mount Elizabeth Hospital and Singapore Airlines.

OCBC changed its reward system for savers after receiving feedback about its inconsistency during a promotion period. It shows that the bank does listen to its customers who take the trouble to voice their views.

CCS and Mount Elizabeth invited me to meet their officers after my posts about possible cartel practices by motor insurers and sale of medical insurance at the hospital respectively.

Although I was not totally convinced by what the CCS told me about motor insurers here not practising as a cartel in a case that I cited, I was glad that it took the trouble to explain their views to me. I must thank Sebastian from CCS for making the arrangement.

My meeting with Mount E's CEO, Dr Kelvin Loh, allowed him to clarify something that I had assumed wrongly in my post, i.e., that the hospital was making money from selling insurance to patients just before they were due to go in for a procedure or operation.

It turned out that Mount E was just providing a service which it thought was useful. Dr Loh, however, took my point that the timing of the sale pitch was inappropriate. I hope it has since rectified the situation.

Singapore Airlines was quick in getting back to my friend Peter Ong who complained about a bar-tender in SIA's first-class lounge who had bad-mouthed Australians in general. It apologised for the indiscretion and promised to counsel the bar-tender.

C K Tang was also quick in admitting its mistake of having a sales assistant whose product knowledge was inadequate. It promptly provided Peter Ong with the correct information and apologised for the inconvenience.

I was impressed with Tang's retail manager Alice Ching's ability in handling a dissatisfied customer and hope Peter will continue to patronise the store when he drops by on his way home to Australia.

The month of APRIL had its share of poor customer relations. Top of my list was the Singapore General Hospital's Records Office for taking 68 days to complete an insurance claim form which my brother had submitted.

Here was a classic case of how public relations should not be handled. Instead of apologising for its mistake and move on, SGH tried to explain how difficult it was to fill up a claim form and that it was progressing into a more efficient system.

The sad part of this whole episode was that SGH, which is running what I believe is a top-class hospital, allowed itself to take its eye off a section of its administration which it might have deemed to be not so critical.

Two others that did not make the mark in terms of service were the Budget Terminal (read "Budget Terminal woes") and Kuriya Penthouse in Orchard Central (read "Take it, here's my sushi!"). They did not bother to respond to feedback.

Non-response was not restricted to the month of April. In MAY, there were many cases including ASA Holidays, Body Shop, Tiger Aiways, Toy "R" Us and Shang Palace.

I must assume that these organisations either do not believe in customer relations or are simply not bothered because they think they can get away with what they have been doing.

But I must say that Tiger Airways is unique in its customer relations policy. It has made it very clear that it will only entertain complaints by customers who write in but not online.

That is one sure way of cutting down on complaints as it knows that many will not take the trouble to do it. And it could be one reason why many customers have resorted to going to Facebook -- where there is a site set up called "Why I hate Tiger Airways" --- to air their views.

The enlightened ones in May were No Signboard Restaurant in Vivocity (it made amends for a couple who were poorly served); and the Land Tranport Authority which provided my friend Anne Holloway with the information she asked for and which the Traffic Police had refused.

Although Panasonic replied to the feedback given by Irene Hoe, it might have been a little slow because she had vowed to tell all her friends and relatives about the poor service she received and not to buy Panasonic products in future. I know Irene has lots of friends.

June was an interesting month with a variety of issues thrown up --- from complaints about Singtel's Mio TV service to Silkair's broken promises.

Singtel was criticised by Jensen Aw for asking him to pay for an extra phone line so that he can watch Mio TV. Its cable people made Quak Hiang Whai unhappy with the timing of their work schedule and its PR guys riled him up further by failing to contact him.

But not everyone was angry with the telco. Eileen Bittner was pleased and appreciative that Singtel was able to retrieve her HiCard number, and wrote in to thank them.

Singtel, however, was not the only telco facing the heat. Irene Hoe (yes, again) gave Starhub a piece of her mind when they gave her problems over her prepaid cards. The last I heard, she was still exchanging emails with the telco.

SilkAir did not respond to my two posts on its service to Penang. First, it could not explain why a seat request was unfulfilled when the booking was made months ahead. Secondly, why didn't it open its internet check-in counter in Penang when there were people who had checked in that way.

Maybe Singapore Airlines should offer to give its sister company a lesson or two about customer service!!!!

Anne Holloway was pacified after Hitachi apologised to her for the slip-shod manner in which her washing machine was being installed and Best Denki in Takashimaya, where she bought the machine from, promised to make amends.

The Ministry of Manpower called me to ask for Maia Kayleigh's contact number after she complained about her maid agency. I have yet to know the outcome.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore acknowledged my feedback when I alerted them to the post, "Henry the hero in accident claim". I wanted the regulator to consider my suggestion regarding the apparent injustice that Henry and other motorists had to endure when they meet with an accident.

I hope the MAS would let us know whether or not it would act.

That's about it. I hope you have no problem guessing who have been given BOUQUETS as against those who have to bear with the BOO-QUETS.

Do continue to write about your experiences with our service providers!


  1. Hey this is a great summary and yes, let's continue to raise awareness amongst all consumers :)

    I remembered writing in to the banquet manager on bad (found cockroach in soup) yet good gesture both on the same night when I dine with my hubby. It was a very constructive letter and never never in my widest dream, the banquet wrote to me personally and get the concercige to send me their signature durian cake to my house. Paiseh...paiseh :D But it shows that he appreciates good/bad constructive feedbacks so that they can improve their services which till now is still good but I wonder if the banquet manager is still around heheheh....

  2. Thanks, Shionge. I hope there are more banquet managers like the one you encountered. Cheers.