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Employee Spotlight: Michelle Lim, Head of Customer Service, Singapore

Written by
Published on
August 16, 2023
Updated on
March 5, 2024
I've always encouraged the team to upskill themselves with complementary knowledge - they are not going to be customer service agents forever. One day, they will rise to be leaders themselves, and it's my job too to ensure that they are equipped with the right skill sets to head towards this direction.

In this month’s Employee Spotlight, we have Michelle Lim, Head of Customer Service. She manages a team of customer service representatives, overseeing escalations and complaints, and seamless experience for our customers. Michelle prioritizes addressing customer concerns, providing guidance, and collaborating with departments to improve service quality. She believes the key to success is continuous learning and communication, as well as data analysis and streamlining processes.

Michelle explained that her peers excel in customer service, demonstrating teamwork, empathy, and commitment. They foster a positive, collaborative work environment by providing support and building strong bonds. It can be difficult to comprehend the many and ever-evolving demands of customers. Her team needs to constantly innovate with fresh ideas and proposals based on client feedback and market trends in order to stay ahead. It's critical to attend to consumer demands because complaints might result from erroneous information, disappointment, and defective goods. While managing client expectations based on existing procedures and rules presents a challenge, dissatisfaction also presents chances to reconsider services and products, providing exceptional customer service.

Outside of work, Michelle enjoys activities such as playing pool, traveling and is a big foodie. She attempts to travel as much as possible to eat delicacies from all over the world. 

Getting to know Michelle:

Q: How long have you been with Janio and what does a typical day in your role look like?

A: I have been with Janio for just a little under a year, but it feels longer given the progress we've made in that short time. While there is a specific structure to my days, no two days are alike. I wear many hats while managing a team of dedicated customer service representatives, and enjoy every bit of action that comes along with the role, including overseeing escalations and complaints, and ensuring a seamless customer experience. I prioritise addressing customer concerns promptly, providing guidance and support to my team, and collaborating with other departments to improve our overall service quality. A big part of the job is juggling multiple streams of conversation and moving them towards resolution and closure. Overall, the key to execution in this role is to never stop learning and communicating. Other typical duties include data analysis and streamlining processes.

Q: How would you describe the peers that you work closely with?

A: The peers I work closely with are phenomenal individuals who are all about delivering outstanding customer service. They demonstrate great teamwork, empathy, and a strong commitment to resolving customer issues. We have built a strong bond and are always ready to support each other, which creates a positive and collaborative work environment.

Q: Can you share any insights or trends you've observed in customer behavior or expectations recently?

A: We live in an age of an "always on" culture, where information is readily available whenever it's needed. Customers don't expect to break this habit for a business, and while 24/7 contact centres may not be possible, 24//7 chatbots are. Customers are more willing than before to try to solve their problems themselves through available channels for self-serve, but this doesn't mean that they no longer want to talk to a real person. Self-serve channels need to be intuitive and dynamic enough to understand and answer specific enquiries accurately, alongside humanising the entire experience as much as possible. Humanising the customer's experience ensues from a high level of personalisation. The whole online experience is now personalised, from social media to the way search engines personalises our search results. It only makes sense for customer service to be personalised too. Customers expect you to remember them — they expect to be treated as an individual and not as just another customer. As such, proactive communications, access to the customer's whole communication history and understanding what drove the customer to reach out is imperative to ensure their expectations will be met.

Q: How do you measure the success of your customer service team? Are there any specific metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) you track?

A: It's not so much on measuring the success of the team, but more of how our customers define our team's success. We try to focus on whether we've delighted our customers and if we've done so in their definition, then we're on the right track. We use simple surveys, more so customer satisfaction related rather than NPS, to determine if we've delighted our customers. In addition, we monitor our response and resolution times while assessing the quality of our responses to ensure that we are making progress in the right direction.

Q: What are some of the most common challenges your team faces when dealing with customer inquiries or complaints?

A: The most common challenge is understanding diverse and constantly changing customer expectations. It's not enough to just meet the customer’s expectations. As these expectations are constantly changing, our team must always be a step ahead. Oftentimes, the expectations of customers are influenced by industry players. We need to stay ahead of the game by being regularly updated with new initiatives and suggestions based on customer feedback and current industry trends. At the end of the day, our approach should be addressing what our customers need. Customer complaints are a part of every brand's life. There are many reasons why customers complain, including misinformation, disappointment, damaged products, and many others. Although most of the time the challenge lies in how we manage the customer's expectations based on current processes and policies, these negative sentiments also present an opportunity to rethink our services and offerings. It’s part of our continuous focus on  consistently delivering excellent customer service. 

Q: How do you encourage continuous improvement and professional development among your customer service team members? 

A: The key to this is really ensuring that we have the right culture - the culture of continuous improvement. If we get the culture right, everything else will mostly take care of itself. Empowering the team to step up and communicate their improvement ideas is my way to forge this culture. They are the ones tending to enquiries and complaints daily, so they would be the best people to propose suggestions that promote higher customer satisfaction, efficiency and engagement. In our team, there's no such thing as a bad improvement idea. These so-called "bad" ideas still often point to a real opportunity for improvement and take the time to coach team members in discovering a better solution. I've always encouraged the team to upskill themselves with complementary knowledge - they are not going to be customer service agents forever. One day, they will rise to be leaders themselves, and it's my job too to ensure that they are equipped with the right skill sets to head towards this direction. We are actively exploring different courses, knowledge bases, and platforms to facilitate this process of learning and development.

Q: What role does technology play in enhancing the customer service experience? Are there any specific tools or software your team relies on?

A: Technology works as an amplifier to enhance the entire customer service experience. Some of its contributions include:

  • Self-Service and Automations
    With the introduction of chatbots and automations, it further makes customer support convenient and interactions more speedy. Chatbots help to understand enquiries and provide relevant information to customers 24/7. It helps to perform routine tasks like answering FAQs or creating enquiry tickets. Customer service agents would then be able to focus on the human aspect of their job for more complex issues and have technology help them at every step, improving the overall quality of customer service.
  • Personalising Experiences Through AI
    AI has the ability to learn, test assumptions, and make predictions. These predictions mean that businesses can be more proactive and relevant. All of this happens in real-time, so that the customer service team can act on insights when it matters most. With this tool, we can analyse the data to understand customer's behaviours and identify possible deviations from customer-centric initiatives. The use of AI technologies such as machine learning, natural-language understanding, and natural-language processing can also help analyse customer sentiment and customer feedback at scale, precision and speed not achievable through humans. With a better understanding of customers comes the ability to better personalise customer service experiences through hyper-personalisation and curation.
  • Creating a seamless omni-channel experience
    An omni-channel experience provides a seamless and consistent interaction across multiple channels and customer touch points. This ensures information is shared seamlessly between channels, enabling agents to have an in-depth understanding of the customer's needs and eliminates the need of repetition. When customers switch channels during their interactions, it facilitates this transition seamlessly, without losing the context. By leveraging this technology, it ultimately leads to increased customer satisfaction and improved overall business outcomes.

The Customer Service team relies on these technological capabilities within our ticketing system which integrates customer data, interaction history and case management to deliver personalised, efficient, and consistent customer service experiences. Our knowledge management system centralises our documentations and resources which allows the team to quickly find relevant information and provide accurate solutions, reducing resolution times and improving consistency. Additionally, we leverage on automations within the platform to track and prioritise customer enquiries, ensuring efficient resolution and effective collaboration amongst team members. With tools to also analyse interactions within the system, we are able to better understand customer sentiments, identify patterns and gain insights into customer pain points. This allows us to tailor our processes and policies to better improve customer experiences.

Q: What strategies or routines do you use to balance your work and family life?

A: No strategies really, it's a combination of open communication and compromise. If there's a need to work late (mainly because I'm a workaholic), my husband will take care of the kids and vice-versa. It's also great that the company recognises a healthy work-life balance, so it does help that I get to focus on my family when I'm home. 

Q: What are your hobbies or activities that you look forward to doing on the weekends or after work?

A: I like to play pool, travel and absolutely love to eat. I practically live to eat, and attempt to travel as much as possible to eat delicacies from around the world. So any chance I've got, I'll be out for a good meal with my friends and colleagues. With colleagues, we foster team spirit through sporting activities after work that encourage friendly banter, playful competition and shared laughs.

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