The first step to bridging the gap between the number of locals and service staff who feel the service provided is above expectations is a change in mindset by the industry.
Oli Pettigrew, director and assistant HR manager at Ritual, believes “managers and service staff need to stop being so proud of mediocrity”.
“Why aim for ‘acceptable and above average’? All that means is you did ‘just enough’ to get by and deliver your product. It’s no wonder that the customers find service lacking,” Pettigrew said.
Gabrielle Choy, casting and coaching director at Sofitel So Singapore, said HR needs to be versatile, adaptable and increasingly analytical when making key decisions and conducting training in order to keep up with the industry.
“To get the importance of the service message across, HR must play the role of mentors to managers and build strength and confidence in them so that they can provide on-the-job coaching and support to their teams, beyond the classroom,” Choy said.
Therefore, even though 94% of managers and 97% service staff in Singapore believe they already provide quality service – despite only 44% of local customers agreeing – Pettigrew said the onus is on the bosses, managers and staff to stop being complacent.
One of the ways they can achieve this is to reward employees accordingly, through gifts, small bonuses or recognition.
Choy added HR also needs to stay tuned to the way business and consumer needs are changing as “this will have a direct impact on consumer demands and the ways in which services and employees will have to evolve to meet those demands”.
Pettigrew also suggested doing away with the automatic 10% service charge in order to better motivate front-line staff.
“The staff know that if they do a great job, they are going to get a reward that they earned. All of my favourite places to eat and drink have no service charge, and I routinely tip 20% or higher because their service is so good,” Pettigrew said.
Both Pettigrew and Choy agreed recognition and reward are critical in retaining staff, as they will move on to better opportunities the moment they feel disengaged and under appreciated.
“Empower your staff, reward your staff and give them opportunities to let their skills earn them tips and benefits and you’ll have no trouble hiring or retaining your talent,” Pettigrew said.