Last week, Singapore online publication Mothership published an article of a TikTok user’s video. This video narrated untruths about a woman calling out the user’s parent for opening a sealed bottle of Vicks VapoRub ointment at an NTUC Fairprice outlet without intention to purchase it.
Mothership published the article without fact-checks with the Fairprice outlet in question nor the woman being maligned. We’ll not include the article link here because I don’t want to send more undeserved traffic to a click-bait-y site whose staff did not even follow the basics of Journalism 101 (fact-checking & getting all sides of the story).
Point to note: many online comments supported the woman who was maligned. After all, who wants to purchase an item previously opened by another? For what it’s worth, the TikTok user’s account is no longer active, and the video is no longer available. I am not sure why but perhaps the person realised his plan for online sympathy did not get any. The public can be very discerning when it comes to online bullying.
Mothership eventually apologised to the woman and attempted to salvage the situation by publishing a follow-on article: “The woman’s side to the story”. We’ll leave it at that.
Lessons we could learn: NTUC Fairprice
An NTUC Fairprice staff had seen the perp open the Vicks VapoRub ointment and then put it back on the shelf. However, said staff did not approach the perp on-the-spot to ask if he was intending to buy the item. Instead, the perp was given time and space to shat at the woman, and generally be unreasonable.
Besides the negative publicity, this incident ended up hurting the business’ bottom-line. Let’s unpack it:
Goods are displayed on shelves for shoppers to browse. But opening sealed bottles of goods are definitely a no-no. Opened goods cannot in good conscience be sold to another shopper. So this tainted item now has to be discarded. This means waste (so much for sustainability) and adds to business costs which inevitably has to be pass one – certainly no help for consumers with inflation at multi-year highs today.
What can NTUC Fairprice do? Put in place a comprehensive training programme.
Well-trained staff would be made to understand that shoppers who open sealed goods hurts bottomline (which fund salaries!) and create a worse shopping experience for other shoppers.
It’s also important to train staff how to deal with difficult customers. These always exist. Effective mediation techniques can go a long way to keeping situations calm, and make sure things do not go out of hand. It is the business’ responsibility to equip staff with this training.
With NTUC Fairprice’s workforce on the shopfloor, it is tough to be able to schedule time away from work to attend training. Here’s where a mobile learning solution like ArcLab can empower organisations like Fairprice to upskill staff in the flow of work.
I like shopping for groceries at NTUC Fairprice. Most of their staff in our neighbourhood outlet are good folks whom we’ve gotten to know in our years living in our neighbourhood. Many of them are great ambassadors for NTUC Fairprice – knowledgeable, efficient, friendly to customers.
I hope NTUC Fairprice can take my suggestion to upskill their workforce so the minority of staff can be just like the rest I described above.
Lessons we could learn: Mothership
Let’s talk briefly about Mothership, whose press accreditation was suspended after they broke a press embargo by publishing market-sensitive information on the Goods & Services Tax increase earlier-than-permitted.
Mothership’s boo-boos may be symptomatic of a less-than-adequate staff onboarding & training programme.
Here’s where a good Standard Operating Procedures (“SOP”) framework could be useful for Mothership to ensure that staff are trained adequately, can refer to said SOPs as-and-when needed, and generally remain onside when discharging their journalistic duties.
Given Mothership’s digital operations, a Digital SOP Solution (ArcLab modules can be created for this too) is probably best for the organisation and staff.
I hope Mothership can step up. Some of their articles can be genuinely quite entertaining.
Today, businesses’ operating environment are fundamentally changed. Technology in one form or another is needed to keep our businesses relevant in the Digital Age.
Technology is a tool. Tech needs talent to operate and utilise it, to further the organisations’ goals. Talent that is trained continuously and effectively. This is true whether you are a digital media agency or a supermarket. Or any business for that matter.
As we transform our businesses for the Digital Economy, the foundation for all innovation is ALWAYS a well-trained workforce.