SUGGESTING the “most value-for-money, suitable and effective solution” for his customers is what telecommunications retail executive Andre Lau does on a daily basis.
The former flight attendant has been working for the SingTel Group (SingTel) for three and a half years.
SingTel is Singapore’s leading mobile, broadband and fixed line operator and has a network of 37 offices in 20 countries and territories throughout the Asia-Pacific, Europe and the United States.
Its international arm also works closely with its six regional mobile operators in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Show and tell
Mr Lau, 33, is stationed at hello! Golden Shoe Car Park, one of the 11 retail outlets run by SingTel.
“As a retail executive, I provide SingTel customers with their communications and multimedia solutions at hello! stores,” he says.
He also assists the retail operation managers in guiding the new retail consultants in their daily activities. The working environment is always dynamic, and they have daily targets and goals to meet.
“Despite the long retail hours, my work actually makes me feel young because I get to dabble with new gadgets while keeping abreast with the latest multimedia technology,” says Mr Lau, who works on a three-rotating-shift basis.
What drives him, however, is knowing that people appreciate the service and effort he puts in when helping his customers.
“I have many loyal customers who choose only to be served by me. Some will make a deliberate attempt to come by the store whenever they need help even if it is out of their way,” he says with a smile.
The biggest challenge he faces daily is keeping customers’ waiting time short while ensuring their needs are addressed.
He believes in going the extra mile for his customers and does not mind spending more time demonstrating how things work or clarifying things to those who need more help.
“There are still many customers who do not know how to copy their contacts to a subscriber identity module (SIM) card,” he says. “It is our duty to educate them.”
One of the best experiences he had was during a recent iPhone 4 launch event at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre, which was held overnight.
Despite being exhausted by the end of the event, he fondly remembers an elderly couple snapping photos of each other non-stop after he taught them how to use their new iPhones.
The SingTel culture is one that cultivates a performance-based environment which is open and innovative and promotes mutual trust and engagement among colleagues.
Other than instilling strong customer focus in its staff, the management believes in personal excellence, such as encouraging employees to take charge of their career paths and providing opportunities for on-the-job training, online courses and training programmes.
There is a dedicated online learning portal where employees can attend online courses that are relevant to their work.
“There are also avenues for us to further our studies through part-time or full-time sponsorships,” says Mr Lau, who is sponsored to do a Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) – Diploma in Retail Management.
Job rotations and inter-department transfers are encouraged in SingTel. This promotes teamwork among different departments and allows employees to better understand how the industry works.
“For more ‘experience-based development’, employees may be tasked with special projects, overseas assignments or be posted abroad on exchange programmes,” adds Mr Lau.
In a bid to recognise employees with leadership capabilities, SingTel has formulated new career development approaches that were not adopted before.
Instead of just taking into account years of experience, there are now greater opportunities for employees to be promoted to a junior managerial level if they consistently contribute to the growth of SingTel.
“At SingTel, you can dictate where you want to go,” says Mr Lau. “There is always room for growth within the group and to excel in what you are doing.”