Go the Extra Mile for Service?

Recently there was this survey on service staff commissioned by the ‘Go the Extra Mile for Service (GEMS) Up’ project, a joint movement involving SPRING Singapore, the Singapore Tourism Board, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, the Institute of Service Excellence at the Singapore Management University, and the National Trades Union Congress. The result of the survey shows that 56 per cent said workers in places such as restaurants, transport, shops and hotels performed “below expectations” when it came to doing more.

Why am I not surprised? My personal experience bears this out.

Recently, a group of us went for dinner. It was about 8.30 pm and we were at Citylink Mall. We walked into a ¾ empty Japanese spaghetti restaurant. As far as our eyes could see, there were only 3 tables occupied and the staff were cleaning the place. The group of us asked for a table for 7. One of the staff told us to wait. Initially I thought we had to wait while they join the smaller 2 seater tables together but as the wait dragged into the minutes without the staff doing anything, we got impatient and repeated our request. The staff than told us we had to wait for the table in the corner which was occupied by a small group of 6. But the place was practically empty and we failed see why they couldn’t accommodate us by joining the other tables together. And then while we were still standing there, another staff told us rather curtly to wait outside. 
Of course, we got pissed off and we went outside – to another outlet! There was no way I was going to spend good money on this type of place with such poor service. 
On another occasion, I was browsing at a camera shop at Funan. I had just finished my run and was in running attire. I saw a bag that I thought I might like and wanted to take a closer look but since I was dripping in sweat and rather smelly after the run, I decided to go and change first and come back to the shop. It was around 8.15pm then. After changing, I came back and walked into the shop but before I could do anything else, the salesman told me curtly that they were “closed”. I was stunned. There was no customer earlier on when I was inside and still no customer now and since I had come back a second time, any good salesman should have smell a sale here but instead of doing that, he chased me out! What the fuck!
Coming back to the survey, my 2 examples show that despite all that retail bosses have said about training and good service, the message obviously have not sink into their staff. What I suspect in both cases was that they were on the verge of closing for the day and did not want to stay back later than necessary, not even for a sale. Got sale or no sale, it is their boss’ problems and they still get paid come what may. So indeed like the findings of the survey, service staff here are not going the extra mile. Like that how can we hope to become the shopping capital of Asia?