Research and Insights




Case Study 1: Employee Engagement Survey (EES)

A critical contributor to the healthcare industry in Singapore, the organisation recognised that it was imperative to ensure the workforce remained engaged and able to continue providing quality customer service to meet the needs of its patients and customers. The management team then set out to understand sentiments of staff at all levels, and in 2011 granted us the opportunity to partner them in a three years of continuous improvement.

Enhancing staff engagement levels began with an understanding of the current state. Our partnership commenced with a measurement of the organisational climate through a survey. To understand specific issues faced by various staff groups, staff across job functions, levels and length of service were segregated. Staff with similar work experiences were also grouped together and distinguished from other groups with distinct functions or job roles. The anonymity of staff was maintained to create a comfortable platform for staff to provide honest feedback in a constructive manner.

The survey explored various attributes of the work experience, which included the perception of the leadership team, the level of teamwork within and across departments, as well as how well staff were able to achieve work-life harmony, which ultimately contributes to staff well-being and engagement levels. To gain a sensing of the comparative engagement levels against the local landscape, findings were also benchmarked against the Singapore workforce, and Health and Social Services industry.

Issues had to be pinpointed at its root to facilitate targeted actions that would effectively improve engagement levels. This meant identifying drivers of employee engagement. We prioritised key attributes of the work experience that engagement levels were most contingent upon, but were not at the desired state. The team identified segments with lower employee engagement levels, and identified areas of importance for the respective staff segments. With the management team, we gained consensus on the findings, where the team acknowledged symptoms of the key drivers that were observed over time. Together with the management team, we narrowed down areas of concern to top priority areas for the organisation.

To gain detailed understanding of the problems and challenges that staff faced at the workplace, we introduced a series of focus group discussions for various staff segments in 2013 and 2015. The discussions aimed to unpack the findings from the Organisation Climate Survey. Topics for each group were further customised for the respective staff segments. Managers were also separated from non-managers, to ensure a safe environment for staff sharing.

While the key issues had been identified and understood, the next step was gaining clarity on how to tackle these areas. Together, aAdvantage and the management team identified specific action plans to work through the issues that surfaced. One of the key interventions was a biennial workshop for staff to internalise and personify the core values of the organisation. The objective was to equip staff to deliver quality care by applying quality service skills and behaviours, and personalise the core values in their interactions with patients and customers.

aAdvantage Consulting has since partnered the organisation for three years, which has allowed us to observe trends over the years and assess the effectiveness of interventions. Employee engagement levels have climbed, a testimony of the organisation’s commitment to adopting and up-keeping the recommendations and implementations.

Case Study 2: Minimum Service Standards

To build a first-class civil service for a successful and vibrant Singapore, our client sought to meet its customers’ needs by ensuring that a consistent standard of service quality was maintained across all their services. As a part of that journey, our client’s values of Integrity, Service, and Excellence were expected to be inculcated in all their staff.

In living out those core values, our client thus sought to meet its customers’ needs by ensuring that a consistent standard of service quality was maintained across all their services.

While upholding the service quality of its officers has always been at the core of our client, it became imperative to ensure a Minimum Service Standard of all their service officers, in tandem with increased expectations of customer service in recent years.

Considering the evolving expectations toward civil service, our client decided to conduct mystery audits on customer service standards of their service agencies and their customer facing touch points (e.g. counters, hotlines, emails). The first step was to review the audit criteria for assessing their officers’ customer service, as well as the specific behaviours minimally expected of all officers. While an interpretation guide of the audit criteria and expected behaviours was developed, it still lacked clarity in terms of specific behaviours that could be measured in a customer audit. We facilitated discussions with the project team, to identify those specific behaviours which could be measured, whilst maintaining cognizance of the potential workload it could add to frontline officers.

We eventually rolled out the mystery audits across their service agencies, over a span of three years. Through the audits, three main areas of improvement were consistently identified for all their agencies. First, officers were found to take little responsibility for enquiries that lay outside of their agency’s purview, and did little to help otherwise. This was despite an organisation-wide policy for all their agencies to accept any organisation-related enquiries, regardless of its nature. Next, officers were frequently unable to explain policy-related enquiries to their customers. Where these occurrences happened, it seemed that they did not always register customers’ request for individual clarification, and merely reiterated the regulation. Finally, officers were generally stoic toward customers’ feedback. While the process of documenting feedback was robust, the officers lacked empathy in handling customers at the point of feedback.

Nonetheless, after three years of customer research insights, we were happy to see most agencies registering increases in their individual audit performance. Overall, an increasing performance trend was also observed for civil service in general. What was most heartening, however, was that the three lower performing areas had seen consistent progress throughout the years, across most of our client’s service agencies. This spoke of a commitment to adopt the recommendations for staff development, and train their officers to deliver consistent service to their customers.

Case Study 3: Patient Focus Group Discussions

The Client

The client is a primary healthcare service provider and as a leading primary healthcare institution, they are committed to providing excellent patient care and service quality through their locations islandwide. In the spirit of continuously improving its current services as well as the exploration of innovative ideas, patient focus groups were conducted as an open platform to gather opinions from patients.

The Challenge

Inherent differences across clinics in terms of physical layout, medical offerings, policies and processes, as well as expectations of end users of the immediate surrounding areas.

What We Did

Patient focus groups conducted with each of their clinics on a regular basis. It begins with a Pre-Focus Group Meeting to better understand current state and intent of initiatives proposed as discussion areas. Following which, recruitment was conducted with cleaned databases provided by the client. The actual 2 hours session is facilitated by aAdvantage Consultants and at the end of the session, a debrief was held with the clinic and headquarter staff. At the end of each patient focus groups, key findings are analysed and summarised into an easy to read report.


Through our facilitators, facilitation techniques, and comprehensive reporting, individual clinics received detailed feedback across their specific areas of interests. This resulted in better management of current services as well as providing basis for implementing initiatives, some of which may cut across other clinics. Furthermore, as we conduct the focus groups across all clinics, we have an overview and understanding of the challenges and recommendation across clinics to assist the different clinics for implementation.

Case Study 4: Perception on Effectiveness of Regulatory Environment

Measuring Public Perception & Industry Perception

We conducted a multi-agency study to measure the effectiveness of government initiatives to promote a regulatory environment that is effective for businesses. We worked with the lead agency of the study to refine the methodology for the Effectiveness Index. More than 5,000 telephone interviews were conducted.  Thereafter focus group discussions with selected customer segments across the agencies were conducted to gather deeper insights.

The findings of the study are presented to the top management of the respective public agency for their action. The analyses conducted also established the impact of national and agency policies on businesses’ perception of the level of the agencies effectiveness in managing a pro-business regulatory environment.

Case Study 5: Measuring Customer Experience

Design and implement customer satisfaction surveys and loyalty studies across industries

We conduct customer satisfaction surveys and loyalty studies across industries including hospitality, retail, public sector and healthcare. Depending on the client’s business operations, we will determine the best mode for the data collection. This may range from street intercept, face-to-face interviews, web-based online surveys, self-administered surveys or telephone surveys. We also design and conduct mystery audits to assess the service levels at customer touch points such as email, store, counter and telephone enquiries.

To gather in-depth insights on the customer experience, we carry out focus group discussions with customers and stakeholders including staff of organisations.  Beyond understanding the perception of customers of their current experience, we seek to understand the emotional context of their experience and identify the factors that drive customer loyalty. Based on this holistic assessment, we then propose recommendations to our clients’ management team to improve the overall customer experience. We also facilitate the articulation of a service strategy to provide a differentiated customer experience targeted at their clients.

Case Study 6: Service Experience Transformation

Measure the level of customer experience satisfaction across all of our clients’ touch points

As part of service transformation consulting, we measure the level of customer experience satisfaction across all of our clients’ touch points. These touch points include counter, email, telephone, website, facilities, call centre and others. We first identify our client’s key customer segments and their main business processes. Thereafter we design the survey questionnaire to measure the level of satisfaction of their customers’ experience across all touch points.

We also measure their level of satisfaction with the clients’ business processes such as, but not limited to, registration and application. Similarly, we measure how they feel about their interaction with the client at the various touch points.

To further the understand customers’ perspectives, we typically conduct a series of focus group discussions. Through these sessions, the project team uncovers the customers’ pain points and opportunities which delight customers (“emotional cookies”). To understand how the organisation culture supports the service delivery, the project team also conducts a Cultural Values Assessment to identify any inhibitors to deliver excellent service. All quantitative and qualitative data are then collated and analysed to establish trends, insights and observations. These are then used to identify the clients’ strengths and areas for improvement. The team will then work with the senior management to formulate strategies and actions to address the service gaps.

Case Study 7: Focus Group Discussions

Gather insights and qualitative feedback through focus group discussions

We work with a many clients on a range of topics to gather insights and qualitative feedback through focus group discussions. Depending on the objective of the project, the feedback is used for different purposes; to review and formulate policies, to generate new ideas for implementation, to test new concepts and prototypes, to improve customer experience or to identify root causes of staff disengagement.

Our Research Assistants then recruit participants for these sessions based on age, life stage, profession and/or gender. Each focus group typically comprises eight to 10 persons and the session can last between two and three hours. We have also designed and conducted large scale focus group discussions.  These sessions can engage up to 100 participants and are conducted through well designed facilitation methods such as “World Café”. Our team of trained facilitators can effectively engage participants from both the community and business segments as well as across management levels, from junior to senior management staff.

Case Study 8: Patient Satisfaction & Experience

Understanding Customer Expectations and Satisfaction

We partnered with a healthcare institute over a two-year period to measure the level of patient satisfaction with their experience at the institute. On a monthly basis we interview about 207 patients and their care givers to measure patient satisfaction and their likelihood to speak well of the institute (Net Promoter Score®). The survey was administered through face-to-face interviews.

Analysis is conducted on a quarterly basis to understand what factors drive the patient experience. Strengths are also identified and opportunities for improvements are recommended for client consideration.