Put human touch back into service

Service, by nature, is emotive; it is amorphous and it is hard to gather strong evidence of a server's bad attitude.

In the local context, amid a tight labour market, it is difficult to hire service staff.

So, even if a customer seeks redress by complaining, it is likely that the management will do nothing beyond giving an assurance to "look into the matter".

Some may join in the denial chorus to avert liability.

Whatever happened to consumerism?

It is high time that businesses revisited the adage that "the customer is always right".

Against a highly commoditised world where everything is a dime a dozen, it is a buyer's market.

Especially in a challenging retail scene, the main differentiator is the sacrosanct human touch known as service.

Switzerland has long established its reputation for warm and friendly service extended to patrons.

Service staff greet you warmly and make you feel welcomed.

The country's ingenuity in meeting a basic human need for respect and dignity differentiates it from many other countries in Europe.

Service is not synonymous with servitude. It is done with pride.

Good service leaves a long-lasting impression, which is good for repeat business.

It is high time that businesses put "people" back in the centre of what they do.

Lee Teck Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2015, with the headline 'Put human touch back into service'. Print Edition | Subscribe