Passport to Service Excellence

For Mr Mohammad Bukhary bin Abdul Hamid, every day offers a fresh opportunity to uphold standards of work quality and service delivery. An Assistant Executive (Customer Service) with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), he believes in giving his best to serve the public. Since joining the Passports Unit in November 2009, he has been deployed to roles ranging from serving members of public at the counter – where “every day is our peak period,” as he explains with a laugh – to backroom operations.

Having completed an ICA-sponsored Diploma in Business Management (Business Practice) at Temasek Polytechnic in April 2015, Mr Bukhary explains how he’s applying his newfound knowledge on the frontlines of customer service.

Passport to Service Excellence

How did you first learn about the diploma programme?
I was in my fourth year of service when I got an email from our HR department on Continuous Education and Training. I met the requirements set out in the email and so I applied for the sponsorship; I wanted to seize this opportunity.

It had always been my goal to upgrade myself. ICA’s sponsorship was meaningful to me because it was a validation of the work that I had put into the organisation. It showed that I am on the right track; that the organisation recognised the effort I had put in.

What challenges did you face in completing the diploma programme?
I had classes twice a week; a full day on Tuesdays and in the night on Thursdays. It was quite a rush for me to get to class by 7pm, and there were nights when I skipped my dinner.

But I got good support from my supervisors and colleagues. My supervisors were very understanding; they would check if I was able to cope with my work and exams. After each term, they would also come up to me and ask about my results. They provided me with a lot of moral support. My colleagues were equally supportive, and this was very important to me.

At that time, my daughter had just been born, and the hardest part for me was that when I went to work in the morning, she would be asleep. And when I came home after my studies, she would have gone to bed. So there were days when I couldn’t say “hi” to her at all.

But it was all worth it in the end – there’s a sense of satisfaction you get when you have managed to upgrade yourself, despite the odds.

What are some of the key skills that you have identified and developed on the job?
People Management was one of my favourite subjects when I was studying for my diploma. It’s an important skill. Being able to engage with people of different personalities and backgrounds, to manage their expectations and bring out their best – that’s one of the most awesome feelings that you can have.

Earlier this year, for example, I was attending to a customer in his 50s who didn’t have the required documents with him when he was here to collect his passport. He had walked in without an appointment, so had waited a little longer. I tried to understand his frustrations and provide him with different options. I also offered him a passport collection time that worked for him.

Customer Relations Management has also helped me in my frontline duties by giving me the knowledge to deliver service that meets the expectations of customers. It’s something I apply every single day; not just me, but my colleagues too.

What do you love most about your work at ICA?
The challenge – I thrive under pressure and always try to deliver before my deadlines.

The other thing I love about my job is the “family” at ICA’s Passports Unit. We have a saying that you can throw us anywhere and we will be able to do the job. Here, the person next to you takes care of you, and vice versa. We work together as a team; we serve the public as a team.

What professional competencies do you wish to develop further?
There are two areas. The first is People Management; it’s an intricate subject that is deeper than what I have studied. I am interested in acquiring more knowledge about this field, to apply to my work.

The other area is Project Management. I was posted to the Central Administration Unit, which handles logistical matters for the Passports Unit. We oversee a lot of projects, and knowing how to manage a project correctly during its different phases will ensure that the desired objectives are met.

How do you feel about the newly announced Service Competency Framework?
It’s a welcome move to have this framework. It will instil skills and values that frontline staff can apply right now. My aspiration is to be someone who can always contribute to the organisation. In order to do that, we need to constantly upgrade ourselves and have the competency and skillset to deliver better results.

Share with us your best experience on the frontlines of customer service.
I remember vividly a family that I attended to in 2014. They were the first customers that morning, and the father ran up to my desk and said, “You need to help us; you need to help us now.”

They were a young couple with a five-year-old daughter who looked just like Dora the Explorer. They had gone to the airport to go to Hong Kong and visit Disneyland; it meant the world to the little girl. But their passports weren’t in order so they had come straight from the airport.

After learning more about their case, we were able to offer them a solution. When I told the little girl that she could go to Disneyland after all, and that everything was okay, well… That smile on her face, it made me warm inside; it made me glow.

Being able to help people, and make them smile – that’s what makes the job worthwhile.

Passport to Service Excellence
To learn more about the Service Competency Framework, visit this page.
    Apr 13, 2016
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