Towards service par excellence

The Business Times
View From The Top
Published: 1 Jun 2015

How can Singapore raise service standards and build a strong service culture?

BUILDING a strong service culture within the Singapore context will require a cultural change on many levels and involves various groups of stakeholders. We could start by looking at what works for other countries known for having good service standards and try to emulate their best practices.

Starting from the top down, the government has an important role to play in working hand in hand with industry organisations and educational institutions to raise the level of professionalism in the service industry and consequently, the perception of such jobs. This would help to attract better quality workers to the industry.

There could also perhaps be awards of excellence platforms to acknowledge and celebrate stellar service professionals. Next, companies must treat their service staff well and make them feel valued so that they take pride in their jobs. It may be challenging to raise wages to attract and retain good talent in the current business environment so companies will need to be creative in developing non-monetary incentives and ways to motivate their staff.

The final group is customers – they should treat service staff with more courtesy and respect. Apart from the efforts of the stakeholders, one suggestion that may be considered radical is to remove the mandatory service charge and encourage, in its place, a tipping culture instead. I notice some of the new independent cafes do not impose a service charge but they do encourage tipping in a very subtle manner.

Theoretically, it’s a win-win as service staff get to earn more and are incentivised to provide better service while customers enjoy a higher quality of service. Now whether this will really work is another story, as it would require a major cultural shift within society, and this will also take time.

Ronald Lee
Managing Director
PrimeStaff Management Services Pte Ltd

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