I have spent an inordinate amount of time this week trying to open a bank account. I won’t bore you with the details, but a quick summary would include: a bad online experience, unclear requirements, inability to switch between online and in-branch transactions, issues with paperwork and wait times.
In my role at Accenture, I have helped many types of organizations to understand and improve their customer experiences. As a consumer, this makes me hyper-sensitive to the customer experience and I think a lot about decisions companies make (or don’t make), things they are doing well or ways they can improve. My conclusion is that there are two types of customer experiences in Singapore.(1)
There is the “fast track” option, where everything goes right. In this case, your expectations are exactly met. You get what you asked for, on time, and everything is seamless and easy. Examples: applying for a work visa, online orders, setting up a mobile phone, etc.
Then there is the “off road” experience. I have noticed about customer experiences here is that people are responsive and helpful, if you ask for exactly what they are able to offer. The moment that you ask to make a variation, request an exception, or your experience deviates from the common path, there is very little they can do to help. Examples: making a substitution at a restaurant, requesting an alternative move-in date, my bank account application fiasco.
In comparison to Canada, Singapore as a whole has much to admire. I spent less than 15 minutes in the government office getting my visa, you can even file your taxes by text message! However, when it comes to flexibility and creativity of solutions, it’s Canada for the gold medal.
(1) Obvious footnote: This post is based on approximately one month of experiences. Opinions are my own.