Forward-Thinking Customer Care
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) believes in helping to develop a nation of progressive workplaces, where Singaporean employees can all look forward to meaningful and fulfilling careers. MOM officer Jacob Soo tells us how he helps contribute to this worthy cause.
By Gerald Goh
The workplace is arguably the most important location in one’s life, given that the average Singaporean employee spends the majority of his or her waking hours there. The quality of one’s work and the environment of the workplace is therefore a very important indicator in determining each employee’s overall quality of life.
Indeed, the MOM’s vision of “A Great Workforce, A Great Workplace” is emblematic of the organisation’s desire to help grow and develop a productive workforce and progressive workplaces across the nation, helping Singaporeans secure high-quality jobs and thereby ensuring that they can enjoy a secure retirement in their golden years.
Assistant Quality Service Manager Jacob Soo, who graduated from Singapore Polytechnic with a Diploma in Information Technology, works hard to help the MOM realise this vision via his role in the MOM Services Centre. The cheerful 29-year-old responds to and resolves customer feedback, enquires and complaints in a professional, effective manner, keeping with the best traditions of the MOM.
Tell us more about your interest in customer service management and how this interest came about.
Jacob Soo Thoo Zhang: From young, I’ve naturally enjoyed interacting with other people and I thus felt that I should put this trait to good use and help others, perhaps in a customer-service oriented role. Additionally, I strongly believe in MOM’s vision of helping to develop workplaces with progressive HR policies on a nationwide level, and my role as an Assistant Quality Service Manager in the MOM Services Centre is one where I can both interact extensively with other people and have many opportunities to be immersed in the finer nuances of employee customer service.
How important is the role of MOM in improving the lives of working Singaporeans and maintaining the national economy?
Jacob: The MOM ‘family’, which includes statutory boards like the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and the Singapore Labour Foundation (SLF), has a significant and positive impact on the man in the street in one way or another.
I see the MOM’s role, along with that of the WDA and the SLF, as helping Singaporeans in three ways: 1) improving Singaporeans’ access to meaningful and quality job opportunities, 2) equipping workers with the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to capitalise on these opportunities and 3) working with our tripartite partners to maintain business continuity and fair working conditions in Singapore’s employment landscape, without which Singapore’s economy would not be viable.
Tell us more about what you do as an Assistant Quality Service Manager – walk us through a day at work!
Jacob: I receive and manage customer feedback, queries and other communication via various Quality Service Manager (QSM) feedback channels in a professional and efficient manner on a daily basis – I find a cup of coffee is a great help every morning as I get up to speed on the latest work developments!
These customer feedback and queries are also collated in a weekly update titled the QSM Report. In addition, I also provide an advisory role to other MOM departments, offering service recovery for customers experiencing any customer-service lapses. I also participate in case conferences with my colleagues where we explore win-win solutions for cases that are more challenging.
How has your Diploma in Information Technology helped you in your daily work?
Jacob: The information I’ve gleaned from my Diploma in Information Technology (IT) has helped me harness the potential of IT in making my work processes more efficient. The critical thinking skills I gained from this Diploma have also helped me to better analyse information and make important decisions at work. Last but certainly not least, the communication and interpersonal skills I picked up during my time in Singapore Polytechnic have better enabled me to interact more effectively with my fellow colleagues and customers.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced at work, and how have you been able to overcome these challenges?
Jacob: One challenge I’ve faced at work is when customers become unreasonable and adopt a negative attitude, thinking that the government is not sympathetic to the concerns of the working populace. This can give rise to a myriad of challenging issues, and being objective and knowing when to delineate personal and professional boundaries helps me manage these challenges. I constantly remind myself that every individual is unique and will naturally have different interests and priorities!
What was your impression of MOM prior to joining the organisation, and how has it changed since you’ve started working at MOM?
Jacob: I used to think of MOM as a Ministry that only assists Singapore employees on employment-related matters. I have since come to realise that MOM also helps to develop progressive workplaces, and is itself a place that provides diploma graduates with a meaningful and fulfilling career, coupled with enlightened employment practices and organisational cultures. MOM also has a culture that is open and accepting, and it is a people-centric Ministry that embodies the ideals of professionalism, passion for progress and teamwork.
What kind of training and learning opportunities has MOM provided you with?
Jacob: MOM is an advocate of continuous learning and my supervisor adopts a supportive and holistic approach towards my development. I have numerous opportunities to attend workshops and seminars and MOM is also supportive of my plans to further my education. MOM also takes an interest in our personal development, and there are workshops on personal financial planning, healthcare and study trips for us to attend.
What advice would you have for diploma graduates considering a career with MOM?
Jacob: Know your passions, interests and motivations. In the long term, these will keep you from dragging your feet to work and help you overcome any challenges. At MOM, there are plenty of challenging and interesting roles, ranging from policy work to manpower enforcement and customer service.
Singaporeans are now more willing to voice their aspirations and concerns, and this means MOM also has to adjust to this new reality and the ways in which it interacts with its customers. This is memorable because it signifies that Singapore is transitioning into the next stage of nationhood, an achievement filled with boundless opportunities. At MOM, you will have the opportunity to be part of an on-going and meaningful endeavour to build a nation with a productive workforce and progressive workplaces and make Singapore a true home for everyone!