Customer satisfaction highest in 7 years

Customer satisfaction highest in 7 years
Shoppers at basement two (B2) of Ion Orchard shopping mall.

SINGAPORE - Customers here are the most satisfied they have been in seven years, new research shows.

The Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore for last year stood at 70.7 points out of 100 - the highest since the annual study started in 2007. It was also 1 per cent higher than that in 2012.

The rise was due to gains in sectors such as transport and logistics, public education, food and beverage, tourism and retail.

The Institute of Service Excellence (ISES) at the Singapore Management University, which is behind the index, found the only sectors to record drops in satisfaction levels last year were finance and insurance (by 3.6 per cent), and health care (by 2 per cent).

The new score brings Singapore closer to countries like South Korea and the United States, which scored 73 and 76.8 in studies conducted with similar methodology.

Surveyors interviewed about 28,000 Singapore residents at their homes and another 8,000 people at Changi Airport.

They also mined data from more than 1,700 companies across nine major industries that make up two-thirds of Singapore's gross domestic product.

ISES director Caroline Lim stressed that the findings only reflect what a "typical Singaporean consumer" thinks of an organisation.

Within the sliding finance and insurance sector, the life insurance and banks sub-sectors fell the most, by 6.4 and 3.3 per cent respectively.

Executive director of Singapore's Life Insurance Association Pauline Lim said: "The industry continues to raise the quality of advisory service through stringent professional learning and development."

In the health-care sector, consumer satisfaction with restructured hospitals and specialised health care saw the biggest drops of just over 2 per cent.

ISES academic director Dr Marcus Lee attributed this to a dip in "perceptions of value in both sectors".

He said: "Value doesn't refer to just price, but to the quality that you get for the price you pay. Health-care providers should ensure any fee increase matches up with customer perception of overall quality."

A spokesman for Alexandra Hospital, which slid by 10.5 per cent in the study, said it would "continuously look into better ways to care for our patients".

The most-improved sector was public education, followed by tourism, and transport and logistics. Satisfaction with the MRT/ LRT sub-sector rose by 3.6 per cent but public buses fell 1.6 per cent.

One common observation of successful companies was an "unwavering leadership focus on evolving customer expectations, needs and preferences", said Ms Lim.

The institute also recommended organisations to "better understand cultural nuances of their customer base".

For example, when Singaporeans order food, they prefer service to be reliable and efficient, while in Western countries, service staff expect customers to make conversation. Ms Lim added: "Service providers can capitalise on this knowledge of cultural norms."

The top mover in customer satisfaction last year was Changi Airport, which scored a 17.4 per cent rise - the highest in the study.

Other notable successes include taxi company Premier and Shangri-La Hotel, which both saw rises above 14 per cent.

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