Every morning, before opening hours we can see customers queuing outside banks, finance houses, CPF, HDB and other government offices. And inside the offices, staffs are sitting under the comfortable air-conditioning environment, talking, walking, laughing and ignoring customers waiting outside under the hot sun.
This is the typical customer service in Singapore. When you complain, the standard answer is ‘law-by-law’; we can only open at 8am, 9am and not early than that. Some offices or clinics are kind enough to provide chairs for early birds, but these facilities are placed outside the offices or clinics.
You are not allowed to enter the premises to wait for services.
So, customers are not the kings in Singapore. Putting money into the banks/finance companies, seeking legal or medical or other professional services, looking for government services, all these activities do not require quality customer services. Or rather, customers are at a disadvantaged position begging for helps or assistances even you make due payments.
And in the many long and short queues, there are definitely some senior citizens, sometimes some people with mobile difficulties or children. But law is law, the OPDs, the government offices can only do so much. What is surprising is the private sector, the business sector all agree with this typical and uniquely Singapore customer service.
PR, HR or Personnel departments in the world will have fewer problems and would very much like to have Singapore style of customer services. Standard, no less no more, everything is served according to the book. There is nothing wrong about the services except you demand better and quality services.
No wonder the debate in the parliament is also law-by-law. And ‘WP adjournment motion on town councils inadmissible’ is expected. Yes, just like the customer service, debates have to go law by law and other than that are ‘inadmissible’.
MND Review on AIM
So, when you hear or read the parliament debates on the MND Town Council Review Report and the ministerial statement on the Review, you are just like the customers waiting outside the offices under the hot sun and have ‘no say’. There are some kind-hearted staffs who may want to help customers and even go forward to serve the customers but they are prevented to do so. ‘Law-by-law’ the offices can only open at 8 or 9 am some even not allow to place chairs outside offices.
So, this is our kind of customer service and our kind of parliament debates. Under the law, you restrict yourself to do more but in your heart, you know improvements are needed and lot of them.
What do you think? The PAP has absolute majority in the Parliament. If you want a better customer service, if you want to take back your rights as a customer, you have to exercise your votes as a rightful customer in 2016.
There is nothing wrong with the ‘law-by-law’ attitude, you queue and then you will be served. You want to be served first; you come early and wait outside the offices. You cannot expect better customer service other than the typical standard one. And for this, we are proud that we are ahead of many countries, especially developing countries.
Perhaps if you are willing to pay or you are high net worth individuals, the personal bankers will come to you, the private hospitals or the A class government hospitals welcome you, the lawyers, doctors, architects will all come to you.
However, not to forget, even you are flying first class; your risk is the same as the economy class passengers in the same flight.
Another review another standard customer service
MND is going to make a comprehensive review of the management of town councils. Does another review mean a reform or a revolution on town council management? Is it a new standard service guideline replacing the old one – the AIM one? What is expected is another standard customer service - the ‘law by law’ customer service of the PAP politics. MPs continue siting and (so-called) debating in the air-conditioning parliament building and ignoring what is happening outside the Parliament.
The PAP is performing the customer service according to law and according to the parliament procedures. Everything is protected and guarded and in paper, there is no conflict of interest at all.
There is nothing wrong for the PAP if this type of customer service can retain parliament majority for them. But changes are happening everywhere. Customers have begun to understand their rights and demand better quality services.
Come 2016, the customer voters will judge whether they agree or not agree with ‘the ministry gives “the same latitude” to all political parties in town council transactions with political affiliates.’