PS21 Star Service Award Winners

In the Public Service, some individuals just stand out from the crowd when it comes to delivering top-notch service. They’re the Giants of the Service League, the Most Valuable Players who take their teams to greater heights. Challenge meets five of these MVPs who recently won the annual PS21 Star Service Award.
PS21 Star Service Award Winners
2013 All-Star Service League

Sim May Ling, Connie

Constituency Management Executive, People’s Association (Kampong Glam Constituency Office)

Whether it’s changing a customer’s tennis court bookings five times or helping an elderly resident pen a letter to his overseas daughter, this understanding officer is keen to help residents in any way she can. She enjoys her job, which allows her to combine her passion for serving the community with her love for meeting people. Although some residents approach the Kampong Glam Community Club (CC) for help with their personal matters unrelated to the CC, Ms Sim still tries her best to provide a listening ear and link them up with the relevant agencies. “They just don’t know where else to go,” says Ms Sim, her heart going out to the elderly residents who often come in asking for financial aid. She also thinks out of the box to improve the CC’s work processes, such as setting a cut-off time of 5pm to inform tennis students if their classes were to be rescheduled due to bad weather. This was well received by the participants, who were saved the trouble of contacting the CC about the class every time the sky turned grey. Asked what drives her at work, she says: “The world is round, what goes around comes around. If I help someone today, he might end up helping me next time.

2013 All-Star Service League

Wong Li Lin, Mabeline

Assistant Manager, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore

Nobody likes the taxman. But thankfully, tax officers like Ms Wong help to alleviate the many headaches associated with paying taxes. The chirpy and approachable officer is an attentive listener who has the knack for explaining policies and solutions to taxpayers in terms they can relate to. In 2011, she received more than 100 compliments from satisfied taxpayers when she served as a frontline counter officer. One even thanked her for the “stress-less, wonderful” experience of paying her dues. The assistant manager, who now leads a team of officers, shares her service philosophy: “Even if the problem does not fall within your job scope, you should try your best to help.” Once, a citizen, who was trying to pay his fees to another agency, was directed to IRAS. He became upset when he was informed that IRAS could not process the payment. Ms Wong sensed that the man felt he had been given the runaround and empathised with his frustration. She listened patiently and called up the agency to understand the situation. She then made an exception and allowed the man to use IRAS’s electronic terminals for his transaction. Even after she had put him on the phone with an officer from the other agency to guide him through the process, Ms Wong stayed with the man until he completed the transaction.

2013 All-Star Service League

Huang Yahui

Senior Trade Officer, Singapore Customs 

Ms Huang is only three years into her job but she has already earned a reputation for speediness in responding to queries and resolving problems. The senior trade officer processes strategic goods permit applications and answers enquiries about strategic goods, which are military goods or civilian items that could be used in weapons of mass destruction. Sometimes when the questions are more complex, Ms Huang coordinates meetings between traders and Singapore Customs officers to resolve the issues. Her quick and friendly service has earned praises from traders. “I would say mutual respect is very important in delivering good customer service,” says Ms Huang, who comes across as unflappable. “They need to know our limits and we need to know what we can give them.” When dealing with impatient or unreasonable customers, she makes the effort to explain that every application takes time as it has to be manually assessed, given the sensitive nature of strategic goods. Ms Huang, whom her colleagues call a “trusted team player” and “a willing mentor”, takes pride in understanding her customers’ needs and going beyond her duty to suggest workable solutions for them. Once she recommended that a company improve its existing workflows and practices in its permit applications. With her constructive advice, the company was able to receive its permit approval quickly, not just for that instance, but for subsequent cases too.

2013 All-Star Service League

Rusiah Yusof

Customer Service Officer, Accounting and  Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA)

From business registration to statutory compliance, this veteran customer service officer has handled a broad spectrum of queries at ACRA for the past 17 years. For Ms Rusiah, making sure her customers’ problems get resolved, pronto, is a priority. Recently, a company had updated its share capital wrongly and filed for a court order to rectify the mistake. But the information it gave in the court order was incomplete too. When the customer turned to ACRA for help, Ms Rusiah quickly followed up on the case, going beyond her working hours and even over the weekend. She then liaised with the relevant divisions in ACRA and resolved the issue within a few days. Her going the extra mile thus spared the company from having to file a second court order. She explains: “They’d already spent a lot of money on the court order… We didn’t want them to get another, which would have been even more costly.” Ms Rusiah’s personal motto of “serving with a heart and a smile” has not gone unnoticed: she’s won service awards and more than 80 customers wrote in last year to compliment her. “I came in a bad mood, but she got me smiling,” said one thankful customer. Her bosses call her “an exceptional team player”, as she thinks nothing of taking over her colleagues’ cases when they face difficulties. And despite the accolades, Ms Rusiah remains refreshingly grounded: “It makes me glad to be able to help customers resolve their queries and put a smile on their faces. The kind words from our customers are always a source of encouragement for me.”

2013 All-Star Service League

Brinda Kumari Shanmugam Naidu

School Counsellor, Gan Eng Seng Primary School

“It’s like a dream come true for me. I couldn’t be happier,” says Ms Naidu of her job, which allows her to work with children and make a difference to their lives. The effusive counsellor believes that every child is an “uncut diamond”; her mission is to help them discover their potential. Ms Naidu takes it upon herself to ensure that her clients’ emotional and physical needs are met, even if that translates to more work on her part. She has taken a child who was suspected of being a victim of abuse to the hospital for treatment, and helped a defiant student mend his dysfunctional relationship with his mother by mediating talks between the two. In the latter case, addressing the student’s family issues led to improvements in his attitude and school results. To engage the children during counselling sessions, Ms Naidu has created innovative games that allow her clients to learn social, self-help and even anger management skills through play. Students and colleagues alike know Ms Naidu for her “cheery greetings”, “words of encouragement” and “positive energy” that she has not lost despite her recent struggle with cancer. “When there is a reason to be happy, when there is a reason to smile, I grab that opportunity because life is really so short,” she says.

    May 14, 2013
    Tay Qiao Wei
    Charles Chua
    Yip Siew Fei
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