He got good service for his 'odd' requests

SINGAPORE - The requests were seemingly outrageous.

Over several days, musician and YouTube star Sam Driscoll (left above) asked hotel staff to read him bedtime stories till he fell asleep.

He also asked taxi drivers to sing Eye Of The Tiger to him to pump him up for an "important presentation" and prata shops to make him a prata in the shape of Mickey Mouse for his birthday.

All because he had a point to make - that service standards in Singapore are a lot better than what published surveys make them out to be.

"I saw the articles about the customer service in Singapore and how it basically said it was bad, and I wanted to prove people wrong," said Driscoll, 20.

"I wanted to change the impression of what Singaporeans think about customer service."

The service standards survey, conducted by market research group Taylor Nelson Sofres and published in the media last month, showed that service staff here performed "below expectations" according to more than half of the 300 people polled.

Hoping to show that service standards are not that bad, Driscoll, who goes by the moniker SammmyDee online, grabbed some hidden cameras and went around in search of service staff who would go above and beyond the call of duty.

The Temasek Polytechnic student filmed his experiments secretly, revealing his intention to the service staff only at the end.

There are a total of six videos in the series, which is dubbed The Great Human Experiment. It appeared on June 11.

The most popular of the series, where Driscoll asks for the Disney-themed prata, drew more than 18,000 views on YouTube.

Many of the service staff had indulged his requests, including a butler from The St Regis Singapore, who read him a children's storybook.

The butler said he has had various unusual requests from other guests, but is always happy to oblige.

"It's only natural that the customer always comes first," he said.

"I wanted him to feel comfortable, and while it felt odd, I hope it helped him to sleep."

'No detail is overlooked'

When contacted, a spokesman for The St Regis Singapore said "no detail is overlooked and no request is too extraordinary" for its guests.

Others had similar sentiments.

Mr John Conceicao, an executive director at the Singapore Tourism Board, said service standards in Singapore have generally been improving.

"Sam has shown that quality service can be found anywhere, from hawker stalls to boutique hotels," he said.

"Businesses today are faced with multiple challenges such as evolving customer needs and manpower constraints. We hope that through his 'social experiments', more businesses will be inspired towards achieving service excellence."

Said Driscoll: "I feel that there are nice people out there and that Singaporeans should give them more credit.

"I want to make Singaporeans remember the good instead of complaining about the bad."

davidsun@sph.com.sg

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