Home gen y speaks Gen Y Speaks: Overwhelmed by self-doubt, I pivoted to a customer service job. 8 years on, I'm still going strong

Gen Y Speaks: Overwhelmed by self-doubt, I pivoted to a customer service job. 8 years on, I'm still going strong

Gen Y Speaks: Overwhelmed by self-doubt, I pivoted to a customer service job. 8 years on, I'm still going strong

Gina Toh


You’re probably wondering: Isn’t it tiring to have to face unreasonable customers day after day?

Based on my experience, the fact is: Yes, you will face at least one such customer every day.

It’s true, these encounters are no fun — but what I have realised over the years is that even the unhappiest of customers is not unhappy with you. Rather, they are not pleased with what they have experienced.

Often, what an angry customer wants most is just to be heard, and to have someone understand their plight.

As a customer service officer, you have a chance to turn things around for them. They respond to you if you are patient and compassionate.

No lie — sometimes customers can fly into a fit of rage and even shout at you. But that makes me even more determined to try to find a solution. You never know what someone is facing and how you make a difference.

Recently, an elderly lady walked in. My colleagues and I could tell right away she was troubled.

After speaking with her, I learnt that her husband had died several months ago of a heart attack, leaving behind debt of which she had been unaware. Late fees piled up surrounding an instalment plan for an insurance policy. Because the bill had gone unpaid, the amount owed had ballooned to around S$10,000.

As she talked about her late husband, tears began to fall from her eyes, and my heart went out to her. I could not help but think of my grandmother, who experienced similar feelings of loss and grief when my grandfather passed on a decade ago. I was determined to help this customer.

Working with various colleagues in different business units, we managed to get approval to expedite a waiver for her, significantly whittling down the amount she owed. We also worked to review the insurance policy with her, a process that revealed to her where a payout was rightfully owed to her.

But most importantly, she found someone who was willing to listen — someone with whom she could share her precious memories of her late husband.

I look back on her case with fondness and pride. Even now, it’s a reminder to my colleagues and myself that we can go above and beyond what we think we are capable of.


While many of my peers tend to move from job to job, never staying more than a few years in a role, cases like these keep me passionate about the service line because they enable me to see how my actions have a tangible impact.

Yes, I have to work retail hours, on weekends and on-site — requirements that are not especially popular with those in my generation. For this reason, among others, many industries find it difficult to hire and retain customer service staff.

However, the good experiences definitely tide me through tough times.

Little things warm my heart, like customers dropping into the branch just to say “Hello Gina”. Although we are not ‘friends’, we have a bond nonetheless. I get the sense that my customers know they can rely upon a personal connection in transactions that can otherwise feel impersonal, especially in an increasingly digital world.

Although it is not the most glamorous job, for me, there is much personal achievement and fulfilment to be found in a role focused on helping people.