Last 2 days, I attended Service Excellence and GEMS – Going the Extra Mile Service at SMRT Institute; our training school in Bishan depot. According to a local survey, customer satisfaction towards SMRT is lower than our competitors. That is why every staff need to go thru this 2-day course.
It’s basically about providing excellent customer service. In line with our company’s “Vision, Mission and Core Values”, this course reinforces into our consciousness the need to keep improving our company image and services.
Our company’s vision is “Moving People, Enhancing Lives” and we promise to deliver our mission to be the customer’s choice by providing a safe, reliable and friendly travel experience that is enhanced through convenient and innovative services. Our core values are respect, responsibility & recognition, commitment to the public, shareholders and employees.
Our young energetic trainer Mr Najeeb Wahab relentlessly drilled into our heads
until we got headache about the rewards & recognition to SMRT if we practice excellence customer services. It builds up our image, customer loyalty, grows our business and makes our competitors difficult to steal away our business.
The personal benefits are job satisfaction, purpose, happiness and recognition as an important part of our society. In short, we feel proud to be part of the organisation serving the community in our small little way.
On the first day, we were taught about dressing, personal groming, body language, body posture, facial expressions when dealing with our passengers (customers). We need not only show our interest in our customer’s demands but also actively get involved in whatever requests they may request. Even if the demands are excessive or nearly impossible, we still need to entertain them to the best of our ability. Sometimes, customers could be very unreasonable and over-bearing, but we still need to handle them with care. We should not get into unnecessary arguments with them. It’s an art that need to be learnt on the job. No matter how, we still have to face them with a cool, polite but firm temperament. That is our corporate culture and that is the kind of image we wish to project to the customers.
We ought to use the right words, actions and initiatives to creat more positive MOTs – Moment of Truth. We strive for more positive MOTs. So many real examples and cases which were not reported in the press were quoted and highlighted for us to emulate. There were also negative ones brought to our attention hopefully to learn from them.
On the second day of the course, the ever smiling and positive looking Najeeb spent the whole day coaching us on PA – public announcements on board train. As train drivers, we need to make frequent PA to keep customers updated and informed of the status in case of train delay or disruption of services.
Actually for only two days, no expert on verbal communication can do wonders for us. But, Najeeb gave us some useful pointers such as tone, pitch, timbre, speed, pause, flow, volume of speech when making PA. Try not to get too near to the mic and speak at a comfortable pace. Many practices and trial runs were made in the driving cab simulator which were recorded. The trainer and the other colleagues then gave their views and opinions on the play-back of the recorded announcements made by us. If the trainer is not satisfied with our performance, we got to do it all over again! We kept practicing PA on those sample messages over and over again until we got them right. Clear and easily understood messages to customers is the main objective of public announcements.
After 2-full day of “brainwashing”on customer services (GEMS) and PA exercises in the simulated driving cab at SMRT Training Institute in Bishan depot, I must say that there is marked improvement on our attitudes and confidence in making in-train anouncements!
We used to go back to Bishan depot for training and courses often. Few times in a year, we need to go back there for refresher courses such as classroom theory and trackside practical hands-on defects handling of train. We usually look forward to go back there taking a short break from driving. Many old friends and acquaintances from other depts could be found here especially in the huge comfortable air-conditioned staff canteen where the food is so cheap.
I understand that only nominal rent is collected from the stall holders. The stall operators only pay utility and conservancy charges. That is why a can drink costs only $0.80. Coffee is only $0.30. My breakfast of fried mee with an egg and a tofu costs only $1.50. You can’t get such prices elsewhere. Moreover, the variety of delicious food is impressive. It really stretches our dollar whenever we eat in the staff canteen. I’m already looking forward to my next training schedule in Bishan depot.
“The opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect the official policies, practices or opinions of SMRT or any organisation with which I may be affiliated.”