Learning how to better serve bank customers with disabilities

Deputy branch manager Heng Siew Pheng of UOB's Tampines branch and Disabled People's Association ambassador Margaret See at the Service Inclusiveness Programme's media launch event.
Deputy branch manager Heng Siew Pheng of UOB's Tampines branch and Disabled People's Association ambassador Margaret See at the Service Inclusiveness Programme's media launch event.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

The lives of people with disabilities are filled with daily challenges that those who are able-bodied do not fully understand, said chief executive Kwek Kok Kwong of NTUC LearningHub. Going to the bank can be one such challenge.

With this in mind, the United Overseas Bank (UOB) and NTUC LearningHub launched a service inclusiveness training programme yesterday at NTUC Trade Union House.

Under the programme, 900 UOB front-line service employees will discover challenges faced by customers with disabilities or special needs and learn how to serve them better.

Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sam Tan, who was guest of honour, said that such initiatives will help businesses show that "they truly care about the unique needs and service experience of all their customers".

Said Ms Janet Young, UOB's head of group channels and digitalisation: "The training is about empathy. It is about building awareness and confidence when connecting with our customers."

The programme is in line with making Singapore a caring and inclusive society - a vision that the Ministry of Social and Family Development's (MSF) 3rd Enabling Masterplan champions. The full-day training programme involves MSF, NTUC LearningHub, the Disabled People's Association (DPA) and UOB, and comprises classroom learning and role-playing.

A preview during the launch had UOB employees showing how they would attend to customers with disabilities. DPA's Inclusion Ambassadors, who engage the public to raise awareness and promote inclusion of people with disabilities, played the role of customers.

One ambassador, Mr Lawrence Tan, 66, has glaucoma. His right eye has 20 per cent vision while his left eye has none. He shared that he has trouble locating queue ticket dispensing machines, moving around without assistance, and finding a place to sit. He also does not know when his queue number appears or which counter to go to.

Assistant branch manager Jervis Lim, 31, helped to allay his worries by greeting him at the entrance and finding out what banking services he needed. He also offered his elbow to Mr Tan when guiding him to the correct counter.

Mr Haresh Gobindram, 42, also an assistant branch manager, then took over to help Mr Tan with his transactions. When the transactions were completed, Mr Gobindram asked: "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

Said deputy branch manager Heng Siew Pheng, 38: "I look forward to putting what I have learnt into practice and to making banking services more accessible for all our customers."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2019, with the headline 'Learning how to better serve bank customers with disabilities'. Print Edition | Subscribe