Published Date: Issue Sep/ Oct 2019
The HDB Service Master Plan was drawn up to ensure that HDB customers are cared for at every stage of their service journey. By leveraging Design Thinking and technology, HDB is providing a more convenient and personalised experience for its customers.
HDB explores the use of technology to improve service delivery for its customers
Visit the HDB Hub at Toa Payoh on a regular working day and you will find its Atrium bustling with activity. Colourful and bright with a welcoming,
homely vibe, the first storey of the Atrium was revamped in 2016 to uplift the service experience for HDB’s customers. Besides a visual overhaul, Design Thinking was also applied throughout to simplify processes and provide practical solutions that cater to the needs of customers with different levels of digital savviness.
Today, electronic services at the Atrium are made more accessible for the public. Most customers can simply walk up to an electronic queue kiosk for a ticket, or opt to register for a queue number on their mobile phones via the Mobile Concierge feature on the Mobile@HDB app. HDB Service Ambassadors are on hand to lend a hand to customers who require more guidance. These are steps HDB has taken to simplify the service journey, with plans to introduce more appointment-based services so that customers save time from waiting in line. Additional enhancements have been progressively rolled out since the revamp of the Atrium, including a video analytics solution to study crowd patterns. By learning from data, HDB is able to estimate periods with higher volumes of customers, and better deploy manpower so customers can still be served in a timely manner during peak periods.
Customers can wait in comfort at the Atrium in HDB Hub, which was designed to evoke a relaxing vibe
Putting Customers First
With over 80% of Singapore’s resident population calling HDB flats their home, HDB handles a staggering number of enquiries at its various customer touchpoints. Every year, around 2 million queries are attended to at the service counters, over the phone, and via email correspondences. HDB’s customer base is also diverse in its profile and needs. Ensuring that customers, ranging from first-time homebuyers to homeowners, experience smooth and memorable service journeys is a multifaceted challenge. “HDB places a large emphasis on understanding our customers so that we can better address and anticipate their needs,” says Senior Organisational Excellence Manager Yang Xiaoli. “We want our customers to feel assured and cared for, and our goal is to provide them with a positive and seamless service experience throughout their journey.”
HDB officers are on hand to assist customers with queries and transactions
Embracing Digital Service Delivery
In keeping pace with Singaporeans’ lifestyles and preferences, HDB has introduced and encouraged the use of digital channels where possible.
As HDB’s main digital storefront, the HDB InfoWEB receives more than 2 million views a month. To help customers navigate the HDB InfoWEB, HDB’s Information Services Group developed and launched AskJudy, a virtual assistant that provides instant replies to online enquiries. Through collating and observing common questions from users, AskJudy is trained to respond to a variety of enquiries, from applying for an HDB housing loan to checking the latest transaction prices of resale flats.
Some 200 e-Services are also available on the HDB InfoWEB and mobile platform, with about 50 million transactions completed digitally in 2018. Together with the AskJudy chatbot, these e-Services have proven popular as they reduce the need to call, write in, or visit HDB for simple business transactions and general queries.
For first-timers Youwen and Paopao, the process of purchasing their home turned out to be smoother than they expected. “Our experience with buying a BTO (Build-to-Order) flat was hassle-free, because most of the processes could be conducted online,” Youwen shared. “We also found it really useful that we can retrieve all the details about our flat via My HDBPage any time,” Paopao added, referring to the personalised portal on HDB InfoWEB, which displays customers’ transactions and correspondences with HDB.
Even as HDB taps into technology to provide more convenience for customers, the human touch remains invaluable, especially at significant junctures in one’s flat purchase journey, such as the collection of keys or flat transfers when homeowners pass on.
“Through digitalisation, we can resolve customer needs more quickly and efficiently. It allows us to dedicate more resources towards high-touch transactions, where face-to-face interactions are still critical to serve our customers personally at key moments of their housing journeys,” explains Xiaoli.
HDB is also implementing 360° virtual tours so that homeowners who are due to collect their keys can experience an immersive experience, such as a walk-through of their new BTO/SERS (Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme) flat on their mobile devices.
For resale home seekers, HDB has similarly sought to improve the process for them. This includes the popular augmented reality tool within the Mobile@HDB app, which was launched in 2015 to allow home buyers to look up resale prices of HDB flats. Users point their camera at an existing flat or area they are interested in, and the app will pull up the latest resale transacted prices, availing information at their fingertips promptly with technology. Since 2018, HDB’s Resale Portal has also streamlined the buying process for both buyers and sellers into a single platform, reducing the number of appointments required with HDB.
HDB’s digital channels provide greater convenience for its customers
Transforming the Ways of Work
At HDB, enhancing the service experience for customers has also involved transforming its internal processes.
For example, effective from the May 2019 BTO sales exercise, the balloting time for new BTO flats has been reduced from 6 to 3 weeks. This was achieved through streamlining internal workflows.
The Housing Management Group (HMG) has reimagined the delivery of housing management services by pursuing new ideas and building capabilities. The first 24/7 e-Lobby at Bukit Panjang Branch ushered in a new way of operation for HDB Branches. The e-Lobby is equipped with self-help machines, such as e-kiosks, and cash payment and AXS machines, so that customers can access HDB services at any time of the day. Data analytics is used to track public usage of the e-Lobby to cater for more future improvements.
To further reduce counter transactions and cash collections, HMG is looking to introduce more new digital payment modes, such as PayNow Corporate. By moving to digital services, the opportunity then arose for staff to acquire different competencies to perform higher value-added tasks.
“It has been heartening to see our staff take on their new roles eagerly and step up to the challenge of upskilling themselves,” says Group Director Derek Tan. “We are committed to transforming ourselves digitally, leveraging data and technology, so that HDB can be agile and adaptable in meeting our customers’ needs, ensuring that they are cared for at every stage of their housing journey.”
Customers cut down on waiting time when they transact with HDB at e-kiosks