Customer Service RockSTAR at Isetan Serangoon NEX

Customer Service Isetan Singapore

It’s not often that I’ll stand outside a store sending feedback to the company and complimenting staff for good customer service. I did it today as I was afraid I’d forget her name: SH Yap.

(This will be a slightly long read as I need to give you the backstory of how I came to encounter the rockstar.)

Isn’t it true that it’s easy to get something from an insurance company (say, a policy) but when it’s time to make a claim, it seems like scaling a mountain would be easier? Today I received an email telling me that this (name withheld) insurance company was giving me a S$10 Isetan e-voucher which I could use in stores. (I think I completed their survey last month) And the email also stated that I should call their customer service hotline if there are any issues when redeeming the voucher. <- I think this is where they jinxed it all.

Happily, I went down to Isetan at Serangoon NEX and picked some of the cheapest snacks I could find – $3.90 per pack – and took three to the cashier at the Household department. That’s where my nightmare began…

Cashier #1 (H) scanned the items then tried to scan the barcode I’d presented via my mobile phone. Nope, it did not work. And immediately she tells me that it can’t be done. Really? She then asked for my Isetan member card (which I did not have on me). Stone-faced, she pronounced that no, without my member card, I would NOT be allowed to redeem the $10 evoucher. I pointed her back to the email which did not state ANYTHING about anyone needing to be a member before redeeming said voucher.

Cashier #2 (W) who happened to be standing behind H also looked over and with the air of a gangster chief, said something along the lines of “Come, I’ll show you. This doesn’t work”. And for good measure, she scanned the barcode once more and sure enough, nothing appeared on her POS system. What she could have said was “Sometimes these things happen. No worries. Let me walk you over to Customer Service where we can get this all sorted out.” And not go all gangster on me. Is Isetan not a Japanese department store? Where’s all that courtesy to customers? Instead of “The Customer Is Always Right”, now it’s “The Cashier Is Always Right”? And she also added that I had to produce my membership card. I told her I’d left it at home and asked if I could simply borrow a membership card from another customer. And she said no. But why? I’m just borrowing a card so YOU can scan the evoucher thereafter. There’s no discount or anything.

So I walked my own lonesome self over to Customer Service where… THERE WAS NO ONE!

I asked the cashier lady nearby if there was no one working at Customer Service today, and her reply was “No, she’s there”. And when she walked over with me, she could see there’s no one there at all. So she called out loudly and one young lady popped out of the office. She hardly said anything, and just took photos of what I showed her on my mobile phone screen.

Then… the ROCKSTAR appeared. I have no idea where she popped out from… but I’m guessing it’s the office where staff seem to congregate for some unknown reason.

With a big smile on her face, Ms SH Yap invited me to take a seat while she tried to sort it out for me. She made numerous phone calls, pulled out documents to check if there was a memo they had missed, and at some point, she even turned over to me and asked if it was ok if I waited for 10 more minutes because the issue was taking a little longer to resolve.

I told her that since I had been waiting for so long already, it didn’t really matter if I wait another 10 minutes. (By the way, the entire ordeal lasted over half an hour)

She kept apologizing and flashing me her sincere-looking smile that truth be told, I was no longer upset.

Eventually, she walked me back to the cashier at the Household department, and payment went through. WITH NO NEED FOR A MEMBERSHIP CARD. Take that, H and W! 😛 (Yes I was pissed at the way I was treated by these two but I’ll not state their names here)

Before I left, I asked Ms SH Yap whether she was the manager or assistant manager. A little flustered, she said that she was neither; she’d just been in the office at that time (that I went by Customer Service) and so she decided to help out. *sob* This helpful, kind, generous, sincere soul. If there’s ANYONE who SHOULD be Manager at this store, it is Ms SH YAP!


How Can Those Other Staff Be RockSTARs Too?

S: SMILE – My goodness! Instead of those glum faces, just smile!

T: Take Ownership Of The Issue – Your job position does not equate to your job scope! Just because you are a “cashier”, it does not mean that you are responsible only for collecting payment! You are the Customer Service person (greet the next shopper in line, apologize for a wait if any, ask if he/she is having a good day, etc), the Salesperson (you ask if the customer would like to buy wrapping materials if the item purchased is a gift for someone, you ask if they’d like another Purchase-With-Purchase item), and most importantly, you are the Ambassador for the company as it is likely that the customer’s only contact with staff in the store is with YOU! You can make or break your customer’s shopping experience!

A: Ask If You Are Unsure – Customers don’t expect you to know EVERYTHING. Can you not page for someone over at Customer Service or contact a manager or supervisor? Don’t just say something like “A membership card is needed or else no-can-do!” and then your colleague later proves that the solution needs no membership card, and you look silly, no?

R: Respect The Customer – I’m not going to elaborate. This is just basic stuff I wish the cashiers at Isetan NEX knew.


If you’re reading this, thank you again Ms SH Yap, for saving the day when your colleagues only knew how to say “NO!”, put up “roadblocks”, deflect responsibility and decide to be unhelpful. We need more RockSTARs like you. 🙂