Today marks the start of the two-month long Great Singapore Sale.
Started 20 years back (was it that long?), the event has becomes one of the highlights in the Singapore's tourism calendar. What's interesting this year is that the Singapore Retailers Association is giving $20,000 to the biggest spender.
Let's make a guess.
How much do you think the biggest spender will spends? What will he or she spends on? Who are the people most likely to qualify?
Maybe they should have a charity ball to give the chi-chis another excuse to get that 305 carat diamond studded necklace from Harry Winston.
Talking about hotlines.
There were five men talking about the frustrations of making calls to government hotlines. I guess this applies to 99.999999% of all hotlines, not just government ones.
Except for businesses where call volumes are very low and there's no need for an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, most companies have some kind of IVR.
"Thank you for calling XXX. This call may be recorded for training purpose.... For English, press 1....."
It's so common now that one could even select the number without listening to the full message if you call often enough.
This is supposed to make it easier and faster for customers to obtain the relevant information quickly without having to wait to speak to an agent. This will also lighten the workload of agents so that they can focus on serving the more difficult cases.
More often than not, the IVR left customers more frustrated instead of helping solve their problems.
How many times have you come across yourself pressing all the correct button and realize that you've come to a dead end? How many times have you come across yourself using an IVR without the option to go back to the previous menu? How often were you kept holding on waiting to speak to an agent and ended up being asked to email/fax in your enquiries or call back again and got hanged up? Or hitting a button only to be told this department is closed?
More often than not, trying to reach to speak to an agent is like going for a 10 barrier obstacle course with the danger of being eliminated at any stage. Or playing a game of jigsaw puzzle or merry-go-round trying to find the correct number to press?
The worst I've came across is one that used voice recognition. It's a challenge for me to speak in the "most" perfect English in my life.
What if your IVR is programmed this way?
"Thank you for calling XXX. If you need to speak to an agent urgently, please press 0. Otherwise, please listen on...."
When customers press 0, they will hear this message.
"You are the number XX caller. There are XX number of calls in the line and average waiting time is XX minutes. If your call is really urgent, please be patient and we'll be with you as long as you are still on the line. Otherwise, you may press # to listen to other options while we keep your queue number."
All of us have our own favorite cities that we will never get bored going back again and again.
In a study of 132 cities conducted annually by MasterCard Worldwide recently, Bangkok is set to claim the top tourist destination with 15.98 million visitors this year (click here).
Bangkok, one of my favorite cities. Although plagued by political unrests and floods in recent years, it has never deterred me from not visiting the city.
The thrill of riding the tuk tuk along busy streets The excitement of finding shops that sell traditional food that are vanishing and shops round the corner where time seem to have stopped moving. The bustling night markets and street food - smell of barbeque meat engulfing the air, the wonderful taste of Thai iced tea, eating tropical fruits and coconut ice cream in the heat. The grandeur of the Palace and temples, sights of giving alms to monks, jaywalking, unlimited array of finger food that you can buy anywhere and eat while exploring the city, subtle greetings by street hawkers in their Thai gentleness, the mess and the noise.
If you've observed carefully, all the political unrests and flood only served to suppress visitors' desire to travel to the city temporarily.
When everything is back to normal, there's almost always a spike in tourist number. In fact, most of us are so accustomed to the political situation in Bangkok that it is no longer a concern unless something drastic happens.
So what has it got to do with your business?
Bangkok has the ability to attract people to return. What about your business?
Can be your greatest friend, can be your greatest enemy.
Spa and salon.
Where else can you apply it?
Keeping your current customers.
Acquiring new customers.
Which is easier?