A love letter to Singpost

Dear Singpost,
I have a story to share with you, on the difference between good and bad customer service.
 
Me: I have an important mail containing legal contracts to be sent out. I am resending the same set of documents out again because the delivery service I used previously lost the mail. I need to make sure this gets to my recipient this time round. Do you do same day delivery to this place?
 
DHL: I am really sorry, I would love to help, but we don’t do local delivery.
 
Customer service officer sounded very apologetic and sorry for me.
 
Me: I have an important mail containing legal contracts to be sent out. I am resending the same set of documents out again because the delivery service I used previously lost the mail. I need to make sure this gets to my recipient this time round. Do you do same day delivery to this place?
 
Singpost: Yes we do. By using Speedpost, you will be given a tracking number, and you can check the status of your mail by phone, or online. You will be notified when your mail is delivered.
Customer service officer sounding very excited and hardsell.
 
Me: Don’t read off the script. You guys lost my previous mail…..
 
And Singpost told me I could use Speedpost Express Service for me to get my mail to my recipient within 2 hours. But when my mum went to the post office to send it out via Speedpost Express, only then we found out it’s for corporate customers.
 
Not giving up, I checked online, and found I could use Speedpost Priority. However at the post office, the rude Singpost staff told my mum there’s only a Standard service, and gave the “use it or leave it” attitude. I was on the phone with my mum and I heard everything. Singpost, this is the kind of customer service you give. I guess the monopoly is doing a disservice to Singaporeans. We have no choice when it comes to mail delivery service, and that made you complacent. If you do a search over internet on the complaints and number of lost mails, blunders Singpost made, you will find it disturbing.
 
Dear Singpost, you have caused not only anxiety, but also wasted so much of everybody’s time. I had to make so many calls over the past few days, and to be put on hold, just to trace my mail. My mum had to help me get my papers in order again. And my recipient had to run about her office, checking with the mail room over and over again. We all have important work to do, yet we are wasting so much time because of your mistake. To top it off, your attitude has been unacceptable.
 
Success is not just about how many different types of mail service you provide to customers. It’s about the quality too, if you can win your customers over with competence and empathy. What is the point of having so many different services when customers are always trying to look for alternative mail service because they don’t trust you? Customers end up using you when there is no alternative, not because they trust you.
 
It’s okay to make mistakes. But more importantly it’s important to understand what went wrong, and make a genuine effort to make things better. I was anxious the mail got lost. But I am even more disappointed by your arrogance and complacency. It only reinforces the idea Singpost will fail again.
We can have several telcos in Singapore to have competition, so that customers can have options and better service. There will be new bus operators to offload the stress on existing service. Perhaps it is time that we put an end to the monopoly of our mail service as well, since previous fines didn’t seem to help and make Singpost service better.

[Recipe]: Parmesan Chocolate Cinnamon roll

I’ve finally came up with my own bread recipe! Another item ticked on my bucket list.

I’ve always been a big fan of cinnamon, and couple of days ago I had a craving for it. The cheese was added last to protect the surface of the bread, but I didn’t want to use any egg wash. The thought of cinnamon and egg didn’t appeal to me, but I wanted a savoury kick to the bread, and therefore the cheese.

Parmesan Chocolate Cinnamon Bread

Parmesan Chocolate Cinnamon Bread

This is a really simple bread recipe, and I used whatever was available at home. It’s not the perfect recipe, you can definitely play around with the measurements to improve the taste to your liking. What I did here was based on experience and estimates.

Ingredients:

Bowl A:

100g bread flour

1 1/2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp instant dry yeast

135 – 145 cc water (warmed to not more than 45 degree Celsius)

Bowl B:

100g bread flour

30g unsalted butter

1/3 tsp salt

Bowl C:

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp chocolate powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

Finishing:

Grated Parmesan Cheese (as desired)

Steps:

  1. Separately, prepare mixture for A, B and C.
  2. Warm water, and test for temperature. Make sure it does not exceed 45 degree Celcius, or it will kill your yeast. (I am happy whenever my water measures more than 40 degree Celcius. You only want to use the heat to help activate your yeast,)
  3. Pour heated water into A and mix with your spatula until the yeast is activated. You will see bubbles forming. Ensure there are no lumps in the mixture. (You can use your spatula to break up the lumps.)
  4. Pour B into A and mix. Do not break the butter with your spatula. You can scrape the dough mixture onto your kitchen top. (Scrape the bowl clean, you don’t want to waste any mixture.)
  5. Knead the dough for about 8 – 10 minutes. As you knead, you will realise the surface of the dough getting smoother. Once it is about 80% kneaded, spread the dough out and pour C onto the surface. Spread the mixture with your fingers. (When a dough is 100% kneaded, it does not break when you stretch it. Based on my experience, 80% is about 3-5 kneads away from it.)
  6. Roll up the dough into a ball and knead. Make sure you do not over knead it as you want to create a marble like design in the bread.
  7. Form a ball, and seal the bread, and place it into a bowl. Make sure the seam side is on the bottom. Cover the dough with cling wrap, and send it for proofing. This will be the process called “Bulk Fermentation”.
  8. After about 30 minutes, check on your dough. It should double in size. Take some plain flour, dip your finger into it. Using the same finger, punch a hole into your dough. You will know your dough is ready when the hole remains after you pull out your finger. Degas your dough, lightly make around 10 punches,.
  9. Then divide your dough into 8 parts. (Based on this recipe, you should get about 400g of dough at this point in time.)
  10. Mould them into balls, and set aside for bench time, for about 10 minutes. You want to let the gluten inside the dough rest after getting disturbed.
  11. Degas the dough again, and mould them into balls.
  12. Place them onto your baking tray. (or mould). I used a disposable cake mould because I wanted to make pull and tear bread. You can place the individual dough onto the baking tray and bake. It does not matter,
  13. After you have completed rounding your bread, cover the baking tray with cling wrap. Set it aside for second fermentation, for about 20 minutes.
  14. During the last 5 minutes of the second fermentation, preheat your oven to 160 degree Celcius. You might want to tweak the temperature accordingly depending on how hot your oven is. In my case, I used a convection oven.
  15. At the end of the 20 minutes, cut a cross on the top of each bread. Make sure the cut is at least 5mm deep.
  16. Take the cheese out from the fridge, you want to use super cold cheese, or it will get burnt during baking. Spread the cheese on top of the bread.
  17. Bake the bread for about 12 – 15 minutes.
  18. Remove from oven after baking, let it cool and you are ready to serve!
Ensure you do not overknead the dough if you want a marble like design bread. Once ready, you can send this dough for bulk fermentation.

Step 6, 7: Ensure you do not over knead the dough if you want a marble like design bread. Once ready, you can send this dough for bulk fermentation.

Dough after bulk fermentation.

Step 8: Dough after bulk fermentation.

Bench time. Allow the gluten structure to rest and come together after being disturbed.

Step 10: Bench time. Allow the gluten structure to rest and come together after being disturbed.

Spread super cold Parmesan cheese to cover the incision made, and you are ready to send it for baking.

Step 16: Spread super cold Parmesan cheese to cover the incision made, and you are ready to send it for baking.

Fluffy bread. Yums.

Fluffy bread. Yums.

“You can be unhappy.”

I recently watched a documentary series on Channel NewsAsia, “Facing Death”. It talks about the challenges critically ill patients and their caregivers face.

I could very much relate to all the stories mentioned. I saw shadows of myself within the show.

However one thing struck me the most. A consultant from Dover hospice said in her interview they need to let patients know they can feel sad, they have a right to do that. We try so hard to fight for happiness everyday, but have we forgotten sadness belongs to the other side of the coin. Everyone is trying hard to construct the ideal world of “happiness”, but what does it really mean to be happy? In the ideal world, we were told to share happiness, never sadness because it will make us look weak. Often we hear people say “never be judgemental”, but unfortunately we all start forming images in our heads with every little bit of information.  We size people up. Unfortunately, it will never be a complete picture because we will never know the complete picture. It’s not about looking beyond what is apparent, it’s about moving beyond the apparent. (On a side note, recent campaign by MCI is about not being judgemental. I personally think it’s a meaningful campaign,  and I hope it achieve good results in reminding people to have more empathy. You can look at the series of videos on their Facebook and YouTube page ➡gov. sg)

We watched the movie “Inside out”. We talked about sadness, we admired him.  But has it really changed our lives?

It is sad to think that we have to deliberately remind ourselves it is okay for one to feel sad. There is always a cycle to everything in life, and they go up and down. Nothing will stay up there forever. Did the pursuit of “a happy world” made us lose the sense of empathy?

The best way to connect with people is to show empathy. And empathy is shown by accepting and acknowledging people for who they are. It can be as simple as telling someone “it’s okay, you can be unhappy.”