To visit or not to visit?
Imagine you are a daily-rated worker who wants to find out if your employer has been miscalculating your overtime pay. Would you forgo half a day’s wages and queue for possibly over an hour to seek help at the MOM Services Centre, or simply soldier on, and wonder if you are being underpaid?
For the 350 walk-in customers that sought help at the MOM Services Centre (Hall A) on an average day, this was the sort of dilemma they had to face. Under a first-come-first-serve queuing system, we could not sieve out customers with genuinely urgent cases that would take a longer time to address from those with routine queries. As a result, queues would snake around the Hall and at times extended to the foyer. It was not a pleasant experience for our customers.
How to improve our customers’ experience?
To improve our customer’s experience at the MOM Services Centre, we asked ourselves two questions: First, how we can reduce the waiting time for our customers, and second, how we can get customers to help themselves where possible. With that in mind, MOM’s Customer Responsiveness Department (CRD) revamped their customer service model for the MOM Services Centre (Hall A) last December, and came up with two new initiatives:
(1) Introduction of a new appointment.mom.gov.sg online appointment system, and
(2) Set-up of Gallery@Hall A with displays, information walls and brochures in up to five languages, including Bengali, to encourage self-help by customers with commonly asked questions.
With the new appointment system, customers with salary and employment-related claims and disputes can now make their appointments online at their own convenience, and be served promptly when they come to the MOM Services Centre.
For customers with general enquiries, the online appointment system would highlight alternative online channels that customers can turn to for information. This means they can save themselves the hassle of heading down to the MOM Services Centre, and access the information they need in the comfort of their own homes.
A snapshot of the Gallery@Hall A (left) and the e-Services corner (right).
If the customer still prefers to visit the MOM Services Centre without an appointment, our re-designed Gallery@Hall A boasts a wide array of educational collaterals in different languages, arranged according to themes and customer profiles, to meet the needs of all customers, local or foreign, employer or employee. CRD’s Service Ambassadors are at hand to provide further assistance. The Hall also has an e-Services corner, which allows customers to check out online resources or book an appointment, if necessary.
What do MOM’s frontline staff and customers think?
While the new initiatives sound impressive on paper, have they really improved MOM’s customer service?
Yasyeera Abdul Rahim, a CRD Manager, said, “The new online appointment system helps more customers resolve their issues quickly and effortlessly. This not only cuts down unnecessary visits, but also trims the long queues at the MOM Services Centre. We are now able to serve about 85% of customers with prior registered appointments within half an hour!” Clara Teo, Yasyeera’s colleague, agreed, “It helps us serve customers with appointments more promptly as we can check their case facts before we meet them. Both parties are able to make more optimal use of our time.”
Check out our Workwise comic strip publicising the new initiatives!
The customers, too, appreciated the improvements. Thana Sekar, who had visited both the old and revamped Hall A, was impressed with the speed of the service: “An online appointment takes only five to 10 minutes to complete, and is a breeze compared to the hour-long wait in the queue.”
The Way Ahead
Despite all these improvements, CRD is not resting on its laurels.
Clara shared that they had received feedback from concerned customers that the emphasis on online appointments would disadvantage non-Internet savvy customers, such as the elderly and foreign workers. Clara explained how CRD would help in such a situation, “For urgent cases such as workers with well-being issues or employment-related disputes, our Service Ambassadors will attend to them and arrange for an appointment on the day itself.”
Yasyeera (left) and Clara (right) at work
Clara elaborated that their bigger concern was how to go about changing customers’ mindsets about using online resources, given the increasingly digitised society we live in. “We encourage customers to view the online resources as their first option. Quite often, we have customers who make a trip to the MOM Services Centre with general queries that can be easily addressed with the information available online.”
She feels that there are some customers who still need time to adjust to the online appointment system. “Despite the new system being in place for only three months, the number of walk-in customers has dropped from 350 to 150, and customers with online appointments have increased by over 40%. This has been encouraging, but we will continue to see how we can make improvements. For example, some customers, especially foreign workers, still prefer face-to-face interaction and need assurance from the officers even after reading the brochures.” Clara hopes that with time, these customers and foreign workers can adapt to the use of the online appointment system, so that their queries can be addressed more quickly.
CRD understands that no matter what happens, the needs of our customers always come first (check out our previous post “All in a day’s work: The officers behind MOM’s service counters” on MOM’s frontline staff). That is why the department has been tireless in trying out different solutions to fine-tune their systems and processes, so that all customers can find help in the most convenient and quickest way possible. That’s what putting the customer at the heart of what we do is all about. If you have ideas on how we can further improve our service delivery at MOM Services Centre, do drop us a note here.