HER sweet, melodious voice greets callers who dial in to SingTel’s customer service hotline.

A customer care officer with SingTel, Ms Wendy Wu attends to inquiries from residential customers and helps them to resolve their problems.

The 35-year-old, who sounds a good 10 years younger over the phone, says: “Some people think that being a tele-operator is a low-end job. But it takes a lot of patience and positive thinking to solve customers’ issues at our end.

“Without us here, customers might not get the help they need as quickly.”

All kinds of questions

A typical call from customers requires her to help them with the loss of a mobile phone or the difficulty in paying their phone bills.

She also answers their questions on SingTel’s price plans, mio TV and SingNet broadband services.

She adds: “Also, if a customer calls in wanting to terminate the subscription to our services, I will try to salvage this at my end and retain the customer.”

With the help of a computer and Call Master — a technical system that enables customers’ calls to be transferred to another department for further assistance — Ms Wu takes an average of 35 to 40 calls a day, spending about 15 minutes on each.

To stay competent, she makes it a point to read informational updates on SingTel’s intranet, check out the forum pages in the newspapers and gather feedback from her callers.

She says: “My customers share a lot of news with me, such as other telcos’ plans and relevant information that they picked up in the press, which I might have missed out on.”

Beating all odds

Formerly in the childcare line, Ms Wu, who has O-level qualifications and a diploma in child and childcare development, was burnt out after 11 years.

Subsequently, a job advertisement for a tele-operator job in another company caught her eye, and remembering her love of talking to people, she applied for it.

After two months on the job, she found herself “addicted” to talking to customers.

A competent tele-operator should possess empathy and patience, she says.

“Listening skills are very important. Always try to see things from the customers’ point of view and never say ‘no’.

“Most importantly, think positively. I always smile when I talk on the phone because customers can sense that you are smiling,” says Ms Wu, who has a mirror beside her computer.

She also feels that a genuine interest in people is essential, and she says she enjoys talking to people of all races and ages and listening to their stories.

When customers thank her for her services at the end of each call, she feels happy.

Inevitably, she has borne the brunt of their frustration, but tells herself that such scenarios provide an opportunity for her to learn to be more positive and smile more.

She believes that nothing is impossible.

Recalling a particularly difficult caller, she says: “I once had a customer who shouted and screamed over the phone asking for his demands to be met. I tried to cool him down but he refused to listen. I kept calm and told him that I would call him back the next day,” she says.

Bouquets received

As testament to her efficiency and service, Ms Wu receives four to five compliments in a month from customers.

She performs her job with such heartfelt passion that some customers have even asked her to go on dates and requested for her mobile number and Facebook account!

She has garnered her company’s monthly award for consistently bagging the most compliments among her 50 colleagues as well as the quarterly award, which recognises excellence in customer service.

She says: “The regular compliments make me realise that this is the job for me. It’s my forte. I love where I am now, talking to SingTel customers and having a wonderful family in my colleagues. We never fail to share our woes and happiness with one another.

“Of course, I hope to lead a team one day, to guide the members on the soft skills and pass on to them whatever I have learnt.”