Tong Ming Xi Music Instrument Store: Gaining Long-Term Customer Relationships Via Personalized Service

Tong Ming Xi

The only two musical instruments I have ever been tasked to play are the recorder and the triangle. 😀 I’ve never learnt to play a violin before, and never knew that people would collect violins that are over a century old! (You mean they’ll still work?!) So imagine my surprise when I came to know about this company which specializes in the repair and restoration of antique violins – what an interesting niche!

Tong Ming Xi was started back in 2004, now has three outlets in Singapore, and has consistently done well over the years in terms of customer service so they are now a finalist for this year’s Singapore Service Excellence Medallion Award (SSEM)! Previous winners of the Medallion are the Changi Airport Group and the Singapore Zoo. So being one of seventeen finalists is definitely recognition of the company’s stellar customer service. 🙂

And what does the company do? It helps breathe new life into antique violins, and is also the sole restorer for The Rin Collection – the instruments are on loan to Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music students a.k.a. music geniuses.

If you bring in your violin for restoration and repair work, it will likely be sent to their workshop in Commonwealth where luthiers (the craftsmen who make or repair instruments) will work their magic.

The company was founded by Singapore-born Ming Xi, who has been playing the violin since the age of 10. He has since created many highly regarded violins and established himself as a leading repairer and restorer of string instruments. In 2003, The Straits Times described Ming Xi as “the country’s modern day musical Geppetto”, and his company’s emphasis is on education, creativity and craftsmanship.

For the first time, the Medallion Judging Panel is inviting the public to vote for their favorite Organisations so I popped by the Tong Ming Xi Signature Experience at Esplanade Mall to find out what the company has done well, and why it deserves YOUR vote…

I was definitely nervous about holding an antique violin priced at over S$40,000 *gulp*

Tong Ming Xi

Because antique violins don’t come cheap (some are more than a hundred years old!), the staff at Tong Ming Xi need to have in-depth knowledge and experience to share with their customers. In fact, they even conduct violin appreciation workshops! The staff see their role as that of an educator, instead of a salesperson. They will help you in the selection, maintenance and repair of your prized musical instruments.

Tong Ming Xi

For violin selection, I got the impression that one needs to try out as many violins as possible, in order to find the right one. It is a little like how magic wands are purchased in the Harry Potter series – you have to find the one that speaks to you. And here’s where the staff’s expertise comes in – they can share about the material, craftsmanship and aesthetics of each violin. Whether you prefer the sounds to be mellow or brighter, for instance, the staff can be your trusted consultants.

Though the company mainly does repair and restoration work, they also place a lot of emphasis on education. For instance, what impressed me a fair bit is that I get to see what is INSIDE a violin. Tong Ming Xi made this ‘deconstructed’ piece which has movable violin parts and also plays music like a music box when you turn the handle at the side.

Tong Ming Xi

Apparently, it also serves as a reminder to young violinists to practise 😀

Tong Ming Xi

And there’s an even cuter version called The Cat & The Fiddle:

Tong Ming Xi

Yes, it plays music, and it moves when you turn the dial. Amazing.

I believe kids will most certainly love the Tong Ming Xi experience. There are also violins with eye-catching designs and the staff can put a label inside the violin with the name of the kid. And when it’s time for an upgrade, the kid gets a violin stand to display the ‘old’ violin at home.

Very tempting indeed…

Tong Ming Xi

Tong Ming Xi offers additional value to its customers through a complimentary service to match teachers and students based on preferences that you can submit through the “Find a teacher” and “Join us as a teacher” feature on their website.

The company also believes in giving back to society, via their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, by sharing the gift of music and “leveraging on our passion and skills in the restoration of string instruments”.

Tong Ming Xi is looking for volunteers to (1) Donate old, unwanted violins for restoration OR for trade-in, and (2) Teach basic violin-playing to these children in need. Enquire here or email

Key Takeaway: To gain and keep a customer for life, staff have to see their role as being that of an educator, a consultant, and maybe even a friend, instead of being a ‘salesperson’. Thus lifelong relationships can be forged with their customers, and referrals will be given. I think this is an excellent way to do business. 🙂

~ VOTE ~

“The Singapore Service Excellence Medallion was launched to honor organisations and individuals who have inspired a transformation in the local service industry and raised the bar in service excellence This is quantified not by individual heroes, but by the remarkable performance of the people and organisations that are pushing the envelope to create an environment that delivers phenomenal organisational performance, employee and customer satisfaction.”

To vote for Tong Ming Xi to win the Singapore Service Excellence Medallion Award, follow the link below: