Local small business ranked #1 for customer service ahead of Apple, MBS, Singapore News

SINGAPORE — A small local audio company has beaten big brands such as Hyatt and Apple to top the list of Singapore’s best customer service providers.

TC Acoustic – an audio distributor with a retail store here and an online store selling high-end audio products – edged out over 1,600 companies for top honors in the 2022/2023 Singapore’s Best Customer Service survey.

The results of the inaugural survey, conducted by The Straits Times and leading global data company Statista, were released today.

The survey aimed to identify Singapore’s top retailers and service providers across 93 categories.

These cover brick-and-mortar retailers for clothing, food and household goods; beauty and wellness services; and online services and digital products.

The top three companies were identified in each of 93 categories.

Over 4,700 respondents took the online survey in March and April.

They were asked to rate organizations based on criteria such as the availability of customer service and whether communication was friendly and polite. These have been applied to both physical stores and online platforms.

The Top 10 Customer Service Providers were selected from the 297 companies that placed in the top three in their categories.

Of the brands ranked in the top 10, four were from the transport and travel sector – Hyatt (#2), Marina Bay Sands (#4), Shangri-La (#10) and the shipping giant and DHL delivery. (#9).

In particular, smaller players – car repair company ECU Solutions (#3) and camera store 8storeytree (#6) – have made their mark alongside established players like Swissotel’s The Stamford restaurant Skai (No. 5), Apple (No. 7) and the three-star restaurant Odette (No. 8).

“It’s great to see niche players like TC Acoustic, ECU Solutions and 8storeytree holding their own in the overall top 10 against very recognizable names in the local hotel and restaurant sectors, and global giants like Apple and DHL,” said Dominic, editor of ST. Nathan.

“The survey results show that whether you operate in-store or online, excellent customer service is a key ingredient in helping businesses large and small through difficult times,” Nathan noted, making reference to the pandemic, which has paralyzed many businesses.

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Retail experts like Ms. Maggie Au, Head of Marketing Degree at Temasek Polytechnic’s School of Business, have noted that organizations are beginning to see the crucial role that quality of service plays and are placing more emphasis on training. of their staff in this regard.

“Smaller, local businesses likely have the advantage of knowing their customers on a personal level and are more nimble in their ability to provide personalized service,” she said.

Statista senior analyst Jana Meusel noted that for the majority of major brands, two factors were highly valued by customers.

These were the availability of in-store or helpline customer service; and professional competence, or the quality of the information received and whether the questions have been answered correctly and sufficiently detailed.

The rise of digitalization and more flexible working hours have changed customer expectations, Meusel said.

“Customers now expect 24/7 service, quick responses and good quality of service,” she added.

She noted that global supply chain disruptions, which have led to delivery delays and product unavailability, have led more customers to seek delivery updates and solutions to delays.

“The results show that businesses in Singapore were well prepared for the challenges the pandemic brought,” she said.

“But the pandemic is an ongoing dynamic, and so are customer expectations,” she added.

For some top brands like Hyatt, the pandemic has taught them valuable lessons, such as adapting guest-facing operations for the future.

Head Chef of StraitsKitchen at the Grand Hyatt Singapore, Chef Nelson Wong. PHOTO: GRAND HYATT SINGAPORE

Grand Hyatt Singapore hotel manager Parveen Kumar noted that some of the hotel’s happiest guests were those he was able to establish meaningful communication with before arrival.

“This allows the hotel to better align its service with guest expectations, prepare for guest needs, and develop stronger relationships with its guests,” he said.

“This is a service approach that we want to continue to develop in the future,” Mr. Parveen said.

How companies are chosen and ranked

Singapore’s Best Customer Service 2022/2023 ranking was based on the results of an anonymous online survey commissioned by The Straits Times in partnership with global data firm Statista.

The survey covered more than 1,600 retailers and service providers in 93 categories, including food, beauty and digital products.

Over 4,700 respondents participated in the survey and over 44,000 customer service ratings were collected.

Respondents included customers in Singapore who had made purchases, used services, or gathered information about products or services in the past three years.

Each category included at least five well-established companies for reference, and respondents could add companies to any category. Only companies that provide services in Singapore were considered.

Score calculation

The final ranking was based on the likelihood that customers would recommend a business to others. This represented 50% of the total score.

The other half of the final score was based on five criteria, with respondents giving marks on a scale of zero (worst) to 10 (best).

The criteria were:

• Quality of communication: This considered whether the contact – by e-mail, telephone or face to face – was friendly and polite.

• Professional competence: it examined the quality of the information received and whether the questions were answered correctly and sufficiently detailed.

• Range of services: This takes into account the variety of solutions available.

• Customer orientation: this aimed to determine whether the customer felt recognized and important.

• Accessibility: This takes into account the availability of customer service in a store or on a helpline.

This article first appeared in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

Gladys T. Hensley