Service Excellence without Frills

May 21, 2007 Blog 12 comments

A contender for SPRING’s Excellent Service Award?

Many of us would have heard about Singapore Airline’s legendary service. Or how every employee at Ritz Carlton, from GM down to housekeeping maid, is taught to resolve any guest complaint. Must quality service only exist in premium establishments?

The answer is no.
Two weeks ago, my wife and I walked down to our neighbourhood provision shop to purchase some Magnolia fresh milk. As usual, they had the two packets for $5.85 offer on some of the packets of milk.

After searching for two with the latest expiry date (being typical Singaporeans), we went to pay at the counter. With a friendly smile, the shop owner gently pointed out that the packets we took no longer had the offer. Why don’t we take the slightly older packets of milk which still had the offer instead?

Sheepishly, my wife and I went to exchange the packets of milk for the ones with the offer. Feeling gratified, we decided then to purchase an additional box of tea bags since that was also running out. When the change was returned to us, I noticed that the owner decided to absorb the 5 cents so we only paid $5.80 for the milk instead.

Moral of the story? You don’t have to be rich to provide memorable service.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. Yup. as long as one is in the service industry, there should be some basic level of service. I agree. Whilst big establishments keep track of service by some kind of metric eg. KPI (eg. # of complaints received by the customer service dept…# of complaints cases opened and closed etc), such small establishments are showing service from the heart, I believe. 😀

  2. Ahhh…, the neighbourhood store owner. These small outfits have a more personal touch. They greet you, make small talk and take time to play with your kids. They sometimes offer a sweet or a biscuit to the kids. They are like our neighbours, some even treat us like family.

    I like to buy from these small establishments. My son enjoys patronising them too. He likes bickering and bargaining with them. At times, when he doesn’t have enough money, they let him buy on credit.

    Such shopkeepers show the human side of society. They are a dying breed.

  3. tigerfish,

    I can’t agree with you more. While I am not against large organisations, working for one myself, my heart somehow goes out to the little guys. Memorable service encounters are not just about how quickly your requests are handled or how slick the service personnel are. Its all about the heart too.

  4. eastcoastlife,

    You know, deep within my heart, I root for the underdog and the smaller boys. This could be a result of my four years working with SMEs, helping them to improve their business practices and being inspired by their tales of bravery, risk taking and vision.

    In a way, I guess that’s what you and Chris are doing too. I have little doubt that your successes are largely also because of the way you deal with people. Handling them with humanity, a personal touch and generosity.

    As somebody who has always worked in large corporations and organisations, I have much to learn from you. I guess reading your blog does give me a lot of ideas in this manner.

  5. Yes, I fully endorse your views…..’You don’t have to be rich to provide memorable service.’
    Because service providing is an attitude and money or richness has no concern with it.
    A Nice post.My best wisshes.

  6. I totally agree with you Brudder Walter. Its the little things they do that make it all so significant yeah? But I am sad to say that we don’t get much of this type of service in Singapore…well at least for me.

    I do rem two wonderful experience in a cab while I was in Taiwan. One in particular was when the driver brought us to the location, stopped the meter, popped out of the taxi to find out where the restaurant was and walked back to show us the direction. Fwah..we were so pleasantly surprised.

  7. jason,

    Hmmm… seems like my post is quite timely with Singapore Kindness Week just being launched again? He he he…. I think sometimes we are too busy for our own good, and this makes us forget about the things which matter.

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