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Good service relies also on good customer behaviour: PM

SINGAPORE — While improvements have been made in service standards in the past decade, there is still room for change, particularly in customers’ behaviour, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong today (May 18).

SINGAPORE — While improvements have been made in service standards in the past decade, there is still room for change, particularly in customers’ behaviour, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong today (May 18).

He made these comments at the Singapore Service Excellence Medallion Award ceremony, where a record 16 recipients — 12 organisations and four individuals — were recognised for providing excellent service.

In his keynote speech, Mr Lee said it was not just businesses that had to provide good service, but customers should also treat service staff with respect.

“Just because the person is serving us, does not make him or her our servant or worse, our slave,” he said. “How we treat each other, whether we value and respect each other, says a lot about what kind of society and people we are.”

Noting that while there has been much focus on building a strong service culture in the 10 years since he brought up the subject in his 2005 National Day Rally speech, Mr Lee said he hopes Singaporeans can work on being good customers, as businesses and workers continue to upgrade themselves.

Although the improvements shown among service providers here were worth celebrating, Mr Lee said they can do much better.

“Ask any tourist, or even ask a Singaporean, which country has good service, (and) I don’t think Singapore comes immediately to mind. In Singapore, I don’t think our culture and DNA are naturally service-oriented, but we too can learn from Hong Kong and other countries and transform our service industry,” he said.

This year’s award ceremony, attended by around 500 service staff and service industry leaders, as well as Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say and labour chief Chan Chun Sing, was the first time SMEs have won accolades.

Commenting on the SMEs’ win at the sidelines of the event, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan, who also attended the ceremony, said: “They prove that service excellence for their size of operations is not an abstract concept.”

He added that despite a manpower crunch facing SMEs, now is still “the best time to invest (in service), because you have to re-engineer the processes to make the job easier, to also empower your staff with equipment and technology so that they can do the job well”.

This year’s ceremony also marked the 10th anniversary of the Go the Extra Mile for Service movement (GEMS Up).

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