Service training for staff in Sim Lim Sq

Service training for staff in Sim Lim Sq
Minister of State for Ministry of Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck (right), along with MPs Denise Phua (left) and Lim Biow Chuan (centre), look at a CASE registration counter during a walkabout at Sim lim Lim Square on 22 May, 2015.

Customer service and etiquette are among topics that will be taught to shop staff at Sim Lim Square - which is working to revamp its reputation - from next month.

The management of the IT and electronics mall announced yesterday that it is revamping its STARetailer scheme, which recognises reliable businesses in the building that have fair trade practices.

Many of the 480 or so shops in the mall are accredited as such.

But staff at these stores will now be required to undergo two programmes, conducted by Nanyang Polytechnic's Singapore Institute of Retail Studies over a total of 24 hours, to be accredited again.

Among other things, there will be on-the-job coaching for customer service and lessons on obligations under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act and Lemon Law.

Some businesses in Sim Lim Square agreed the training would be beneficial. A spokesman for surveillance camera store Choicecycle CCTV said: "Customer service should be uniform across the whole mall as it is important for all of us to try to uphold the reputation of the mall."

But though businesses in the mall are generally keen to have their staff trained, some question its effectiveness in boosting sales, which have dropped by more than 50 per cent for some stores since a video spread widely last year showing a retailer fleecing a Vietnamese tourist.

Said Mr Eric Teo, 58, the owner of Z-Nix Trading on the sixth floor of the mall: "It is not a bad idea, but even if we go for the course, will it help to generate more sales? We have been making losses."

Besides the new training programmes, Sim Lim Square's management plans to form a task force over the next few months to tackle problems such as the mall's falling foot traffic. It will consider setting up an e-commerce platform for its retailers.

Said Mr Kwek Theng Swee, vice-chairman of Sim Lim Square's management council: "We have two major challenges, and one is the short-term problem of recovering our reputation. We have revitalised our STARetailer scheme, but we are more concerned with the long-term business model.

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