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Singapore: Innovating businesses in the services industry

Ng Ngee Khiang, General Manager, Business Systems Division, Epson Singapore | July 15, 2014
Customer service begins with technology

F&B business owners can consider more intuitive solutions such as wireless ordering, which reduces human error and customer waiting time, thereby increasing customer satisfaction and return business. The concept of devices sharing data with each other, or "The Internet of Things" offers vast potential to reinvent business operations, but it is still untapped on a larger scale.

Imagine your favourite restaurant's app on your smartphone to make reservations and order meals in advance with your personal device from anywhere. Once arriving at the restaurant, the kitchen has already processed your order, allowing waiters to focus on customer service and greet you with a smile. Now imagine all retailers with the same technology, and how that greatly changes the way we make purchasing decisions as consumers. This is a game-changer.

Businesses are now beginning to recognize the value of using data and analytics to improve decision making related to consumer insight, brand and product management and pricing. Smarter businesses can transform Big Data to "smaller data" for quicker planning, especially with fast-moving consumer goods such as fashion, electronic products and seasonal menus.

Logging-in to web-based dashboards housed on secure platforms allows owners to monitor and analyse real-time activity in multiple stores at a glance. If sales is more brisk in one outlet at a certain hour, owners can reallocate staff to accommodate different manpower needs and achieve greater efficiency in processes. Instead of reprinting menus, price tags, and retraining staff on seasonal promotions, it will be quicker and more cost-effective to update on a centralised system that will then send the information through to wireless cashiers, receipt printers, and electronic menus on tablet peripherals for staff to know the latest prices and items in stock.

A Collaborative Effort from All Ends

Raising productivity to improve customer service and business performance requires efforts on all fronts. Owners cannot afford to neglect any process of their business, and a good technology infrastructure can improve each part of the chain from back-end operations to front-end point of sales. When decisions can be rolled out immediately, retailers are in a better position to customise strategies and also react to competitors in a highly competitive environment.

In the current landscape where an average of 50 retail outlets are launched each month, productivity improvement means a fundamental shift from the current way of doing things. Planning the next move at the balance books is too late, and looking to a collaborative alignment of interests between staff and business owners is perhaps the most effective place to start in motivating employees to excel. Through tech-enabled solutions, businesses can look to reap cost savings, reduce overheads, and focus on delivering quality goods and exceptional services.

Ultimately, it's all about how we as businesses provide our customers a seamless experience that will leave them coming back for more.



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