Retailers, one strike and you're out

A single bad experience was all it took for communications officer Rebecca Yuen, 24, to swear off future visits to a dental clinic in Bukit Batok.

She had made an appointment with a braces specialist on May 4 to fix a problem that needed immediate attention. But she was refused at the door as she "did not get (my) braces done there", Ms Yuen said. She could not see the dentist she frequented because he was not working that day.

"It was an emergency. I don't see why the specialist should discriminate against his patients," she said. "I'm never going back."

Many people like Ms Yuen boycott companies after just one bad customer experience, going by poll findings released yesterday by AchieveGlobal Singapore, a soft-skills training provider.

Nearly one third of the 514 consumers polled here last November said that they were "somewhat" to "very" likely to defect to a competitor after a single bad experience.

More consumers were more forgiving, but not by much. Slightly over nine in 10 consumers said they would defect to another company after three or fewer bad experiences. This is similar to the findings for Taiwan and China, where similar surveys were done.

On why so many consumers here would boycott a firm, Mr Andrew Calvert, regional director and solution architect at AchieveGlobal Singapore, said: "In today's economy, there are just too many choices... The stakes involved for companies in delivering superior and consistent service are now higher than ever."

Ms Sarah Lim, a senior retail-management lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic, said she believes Singapore is taking "small steps" in improving customer engagement. Noting that it is a "buyers' world these days", she said that there is "no shortcut" for firms when it comes to service.

"Companies will just have to...make sure every experience for the customer is a pleasant one," she said.

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