“We are very heartened by the compliments given to our service staff from our members. It motivates my team especially when they work hard to help clear any doubts because this makes them feel appreciated by the members.” – Mr Soh Chin Heng, Deputy Chief Executive (Services) at CPF Board.
As DCE (Services), Mr Soh takes on a pivotal role in bridging the link between CPF and more than 3.65 million CPF members. We find out more about the challenges he and his team face and learn about an “undercover” experience he recently went on.
Tell us more about your role as Deputy Chief Executive (Services) at CPF Board.
I oversee the CPF customer service channels – our five service centres, two call centres, correspondence team and digital channels – and the backend teams that administer various CPF schemes and national programmes on behalf of the Government.
What’s a typical day at the office for you?
Meetings. Lots of meetings! Lots of emails too. Other than strategising the way ahead with the CPF management, I try to walk the ground. I’d meet up with our customer service officers, where possible, to better understand the daily work issues they face and the concerns of CPF members.
We heard you recently had an “undercover” experience. Could you tell us more about it?
I did a few “attachments” as a customer service executive at our service centres, call centres and correspondence unit. I observed the interactions over the counters, listened in to the calls and scanned the correspondences. I also served some customers at the ticketing kiosks and e-lobbies within the service centres, handled a few calls and replied to a handful of correspondences. I did it to get a better understanding of how our front-line staff manage our members’ needs and also to find ways to improve our service.
What were some of the insights you gained from that experience?
For one, it is challenging for our customer service executives at the call centres to explain fully and clearly some issues over a phone call. We encourage CPF members turning 55 to attend the talks or roadshows the Board organised to gain a better understanding of our CPF system so that they can make informed decisions to better meet their retirement needs. Alternatively, they can also make an appointment and come to one of our service centres.
From the questions that were asked, I noticed a growing awareness and appreciation for the CPF interest rates. Many asked how they can top up their own or loved ones’ CPF, and how to transfer their Ordinary Account savings to their Special or Retirement accounts so as to earn a higher interest rate.
Tell us about the latest service initiatives implemented by the CPF Board.
We refreshed the CPF Yearly Statement of Account at the beginning of this year. In the new statement, we provided a pictorial summary of each member’s CPF contributions, interest received, and the amounts used for retirement, housing, healthcare and other purposes. The response to the statement was very positive and many felt that it helped them understand their CPF contributions and usage better.
This year, we piloted mobile service centres where we set up temporary service centres at different parts of Singapore. This allow members to make enquiries at locations convenient to them, and the service was very well received.
In addition, we are upgrading our service centres. By October, we will have a bigger and more conducive service centre in Jurong. We will also be shifting our service centre at Robinson Road to Maxwell Road, opposite Maxwell market.
What is one of the biggest challenges your team is currently facing?
One challenge our call centre teams face is that we are not being able to provide personalised information over the phone. This is due to security concerns and to protect our members’ CPF information, but it frustrates many CPF members. My team and I are working hard to tackle this issue and we hope to be able to bring some good news to members soon.
How do you think the CPF Board’s services have transformed throughout the years?
Over the past 5-6 years, the Government has introduced many new social programmes – CPF Life, Pioneer Generation, Medishield Life, Silver Support etc – and the CPF Board has been tasked to administer many of these programmes. This has led to many challenges for the Board, but it has also helped Singaporeans improve their social security. Other than the increase in our services, my team and I have worked hard to provide excellent customer service to our members and help them understand how they can benefit from such services. We are heartened and encouraged by the many compliments given to our customer service officers by our members.
What is life like for you outside of work?
Health and family are important to me. Like many busy Singaporeans, I try to optimise the two and combine the two. I enjoy cycling with my wife and since last year, we began cycling to different parts of Singapore on weekends. We went on many cycling trips over a period of 1 year, to cover different areas of Singapore from Changi Village to Jurong passing through Gardens by the Bay, up to Mandai and through Coney Island in the north-east before going back to Changi Village. It was a memorable experience.