At a fishball noodles stall of a HDB coffee shop one recent evening….

Customer : Auntie, I would like fishball noodles and fishball bak chor mee.  Dry, take-away, please.

For the benefits of readers who are unfamiliar with Singapore food, here are what the stall sells.

Fishball noodles (without pork) @ S$2.80

Fishball Bak Chor Mee (aka fishball noodles with minced pork) @ S$3.00

Bak Chor Mee (aka minced pork noodles) with stewed mushrooms and pig livers (but without fishballs) @ S$3.00

Stall assistant A : Bak Chor Mee and fishball bak chor mee, right?

Customer : No, fishball noodles and fishball bak chor mee.

Stall assistant A nodded her head.  To be sure that she got the order right…

Customer : Auntie, I don’t want bak chor mee.  It’s one packet of fishball noodles without pork, and one packet of fishball bak chor mee.

Stall assistant A started to prepare the food.

While waiting, stall assistant B asked for S$6.00 from the customer.  Without paying attention to the prices (that’s the customer’s weakness!), the customer paid and stood aside to wait.

After about 5 minutes,  the customer was handed two packets of noodles – fishball bak chor mee and bak chor mee instead.  Disappointed, customer explained nicely what she had actually ordered.

Instead of admitting her mistake, stall assistant A showed her unhappy face and claimed that the customer was speaking too softly.  Oh really?

And instead of being apologetic, she went on to ask stall assistant B to refund the customer 20 cents with no intention to replace the customer’s order with the correct one.

What an attitude!  Obviously stall assistant A had totally missed the point!

The customer started to feel a little unhappy while stall assistant B stood there not knowing what to do.  Without wanting to kick a big fuss over the incident but seeing the need to make her point….

Customer : Auntie, how can you blame me for being too soft, and I have even repeated my order to you.  Money is a small matter but I don’t eat pork.  That’s why I said fishball noodles without pork.

On hearing that, stall assistant A had no choice but to replace the order although it was obvious that she was very reluctant and unhappy.

This is one case of very bad customer service.  While it is true that there are a lot of great customer services out there but my view is that here in Singapore, despite all the efforts and campaigns, there is still much to be desired as far as the general service standard of the country is concerned, whether it is in a big departmental store or a coffee shop/hawker centre.

To achieve a high standard of customer service, likewise for good work performance, proper training and knowledge aside, it is also about understanding the expectations for their jobs, doing their jobs with passion, and taking pride in what they do no matter how small or simple the job is.  All these have to go hand in hand, and without the fundamental qualities that really come from the heart, achieving a high level of service standard (like in Japan) will remain an ideal only.


Notes : photos used on this entry were taken from Yahoo website.


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