Coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus: Digital platform helped team of 5 field hundreds of queries

As the Covid-19 outbreak continues to cause disruptions, organisations here have had to adapt to 'business as usual' in a pandemic world. From robot cleaners to remote physiotherapy sessions to digital management platforms, Timothy Goh looks at five different types of technology that have been adopted here in the fight against Covid-19, and what the future might look like.

Salesforce's service cloud (above) helped the Singapore Global Network consolidate queries from overseas Singaporeans.
Salesforce's service cloud (above) helped the Singapore Global Network consolidate queries from overseas Singaporeans. PHOTO: SALESFORCE

Embracing tech in Covid-19 fight

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the digital marketing team at the Singapore Global Network (SGN) handled fewer than a dozen questions a week, ranging from queries on its programmes and initiatives, to issues related to relocating to or out of Singapore.

SGN, a division of the Economic Development Board, helps engage overseas Singaporeans and people with ties to Singapore.

When Covid-19 hit, however, the digital marketing team, which has just five members, was facing a flood of around 50 queries daily.

Many questions came from concerned overseas Singaporeans who asked about returning to Singapore or what would happen to courses of study as countries shut their borders. Sometimes there were more than 100 queries a day.

"Everybody was looking for answers, but the answers were not easily available," said SGN's executive director Jasmin Lau.

Noting that most government agencies take about two or three days to respond to e-mailed queries, she said: "When people are trying to book a plane ticket for tomorrow, two to three days cannot cut it."

Fortunately, the team was able to deal with the deluge using a digital platform provided by software company Salesforce, which it happened to implement in January.

The platform consolidated queries into a service cloud, allowing the team to analyse the most common queries and prepare a standard response to them, rather than dealing with them one by one. The cloud also allowed the team to tap the help of other SGN officers stationed in different time zones, so that someone would always be working on resolving a query.

Together, the team dealt with around 1,000 requests for assistance from mid-March to mid-April.

Ms Lau said the Covid-19 period allowed the team to undergo an "accelerated learning process", and she believed the quality of service the team was able to provide because of the platform would go a long way in building good relationships with the people they helped.

"We see all this as part of longer-term relationship management work we do," she said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2020, with the headline Coronavirus: Digital platform helped team of 5 field hundreds of queries. Subscribe