my cpf – CPF Service Transformation
Central Provident Fund Board, Singapore

The Problem

The Central Provident Fund (CPF) is a fully funded social security savings scheme that helps Singaporeans save for their retirement. Working Singaporeans, together with their employers, contribute a percentage of their monthly income to their CPF accounts. When they retire, they would receive a monthly retirement income paid out from their accumulated CPF savings. Self-employed persons are required to contribute part of their income to their CPF accounts as savings for their healthcare needs. As at June 2011, CPF Board had more than 3 million account holders with a total account balance of US$152 billion .

Transformation over the years
Before 1990, customers were served from counters segregated by schemes located at different storeys of the CPF Building. To better respond to customers’ requirements, we aggregated all counters into a one-stop Service Centre and also created a one-stop Call Centre in 1994 and 1996 respectively.

From observation, we realised that even basic face-to-face counter service was not easily accessible to some of our customers. For instance, in the early days of the National Projects, we had some very old and disabled citizens who could hardly walk, struggle to come to our Service Centres, to opt in for the top-ups to their CPF Accounts. This sad sight for an otherwise happy occasion made us determined to provide an alternative solution. We needed to minimise their travel and instead go to them if need be, for them to enjoy what other citizens have taken for granted.

Therefore we came up with the m-Ambassador service. It uses wireless technology to enable our CSOs to serve customers using Ultra Mobile PCS (UMPC). By combining excellent frontline customer service and the creative use of IT, we can go out to the community and help our elderly and disabled customers benefit from our e-services.

Large customer base and aging population
CPF Board’s target market is our CPF members. Essentially, everyone who maintains an account with us is our customer. Hence our customer base is as large as 3.4 million.

Given that Singapore has one of the fastest aging populations in Asia, life expectancy has risen from 75.3 years in 1990 to 81.8 years in 2010. Today about 9% of our population is over 65 years old . This will rise to 19% by 2030, which means that 1 in every 5 Singaporeans will be above 65 years old . As the sole administrator of Singaporean’s savings, this indicates an increasing need for us to ensure that our members are financially secure in their old age.

Our challenge is therefore to deliver services to an aging but increasingly sophisticated population. Technologically, Singapore has a high internet penetration rate of 82 % and citizens increasingly want more services delivered online. However, from our listening posts (surveys, focus groups, etc.), we also know that there is a need to address the needs of citizens who are struggling to keep up. The need to address these different, overlapping needs led to the launch of my cpf.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
my cpf is a holistic customer service framework developed with citizens’ inputs that leverages on ICT to educate and empower Singaporeans to plan for a secure retirement. It addresses the different needs of our customers. We make use of the latest technology to develop a host of customised and cost-effective delivery channels. Citizens can self-serve via multiple channels and transact 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (24 x 7) regardless of their location, anytime, anywhere, using their preferred platform.

By being innovative in its ICT use, my cpf is able to address the needs of customers at the opposite extreme of IT savviness. Those constantly on the move and at the forefront of IT adoption can make use of our mobile and e-services wherever they are. This group of self-helping customers will relieve our staff from dealing with mundane transactions, thus allowing them to focus on more complex issues and helping those who are not e-savvy.

Over the past 3 years, we have achieved more than 10 international and local awards and shared our success story with hundreds of overseas and local organisations.

In 2010, my cpf clinched the prestigious Stockholm Challenge 2010 Award under the Public Administration category, beating more than 290 project submissions from 90 countries from all over the world. In Singapore, my cpf also won the Outstanding Award for the inaugural Singapore Government Web Excellence Awards where we came in top for three out of four categories, namely “Most User-Friendly Website”, “Best Content Presentation Website” and “E-Service Delivery Website”.

In 2011, my cpf won the esteemed World Summit Award 2011, as one of the five most outstanding best practise developments in the “e-Government & Institutions” category.

Since the launch of my cpf, the cost of serving each customer at counters and via e-service has reduced from US$23.23 and US$0.70 respectively in 2003 to US$19.58 and US$0.12 respectively in 2010. The e-transaction rates have increased from 8 million in 2003 to 46 million in 2010, and it is projected to hit more than 50 million in 2011. With the availability of My Statement online, we have also reduced the frequency of posting hardcopy statements, resulting in cost savings of US$1.15 million annually.

Our members’ confidence in us and the convenience of our e-services has allowed us to achieve a 97.1% (46 million) e-transaction rate out of the 47.4 million transactions annually. This clearly shows my cpf has become the most preferred service channel for the citizens.

The convenience, usability and breadth of my cpf has also increased the overall satisfaction with our services from 95.5% in 2003 to 98.6% in 2010, despite the fact that we have concurrently reduced our customer service counters by 46% (from 69 to 37) over the same period. These prove that citizens are happy with my cpf and its services are rightly pegged to meet and exceed the needs of Singaporeans.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
Implementing my cpf required us to break the individual departmental silos and move from an organisation-centric to a customer-centric way of serving members. To achieve this, two committees namely my cpf Steering Committee and my cpf Committee were set up when the project started in 2004.

my cpf Steering Committee provided the direction and ensured buy-in from the departments. The committee was headed by Deputy Chief Executive (Services) [DCE(SVC)], and its members included the Directors and Heads of Department (HODs) from the Services Group. The Steering Committee also provided a platform to review the schemes in totality to support the objective of helping members save for their retirement.

The concept of my cpf required a mindset change and support from everyone in the organization. It was initially difficult to get staff to start thinking from a customer-centric point of view, and look across all our schemes to identify those that would affect members at a particular life stage. In implementing my cpf, we took a top-down approach in getting buy-in. As Chairperson of the my cpf Steering Committee, DCE(SVC) played an active role in guiding the Directors and the HODs as they worked on their life events. The HODs were also tasked to disseminate and explain the concept to their staff. For example, the Customer Service Department trained the Customer Service Officers (CSOs) to serve customers by life events. The my cpf concept was also instilled in new staff through briefings during their orientation programme and a half day compulsory course.

A working committee, my cpf Committee, chaired by Director (Customer Relations) was also set up to oversee the development, implementation and operational details of my cpf. The new way of serving customers was cascaded throughout the organisation via communication and training programmes. The eleven men team (inclusive of Chairperson and Secretary) engaged in monthly meetings to discuss initiatives and generate ideas to improve my cpf framework. The committee comprised staff at the working level, represented by the various divisions in CPF Board.

The excellent teamwork and commitment from the members of the two committees successfully drove the implementation of my cpf, bringing our service up the next level.

When the system was institutionalised by 2006, for better coordination and operation efficiency, the 2 committees merged into one committee [named as ‘my cpf committee’ and chaired by the Director (Customer Relations). Today, this committee is still responsible for review, planning, coordination and implementation of new service initiatives under my cpf portal.

We also work with a network of partners that have similar objectives to maximise the reach of the retirement planning message cost-effectively. For example, the contents and tools within my cpf allow us to be an active partner in MoneySENSE (, a national financial literacy programme aimed at educating Singaporeans on basic money management. The other partners include public organisations and the associations for financial planning, investor management, life insurance and banks.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
Segmenting Customers and identifying their needs
A one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate for us because of our vast member base. Segmenting the members according to life events allows us to analyse each segment, and develop specific targeted marketing programmes to meet their needs.

Under my cpf, only parts of the schemes which are applicable to the life event are extracted to keep the information easy to understand. Explanations on how the schemes affect one another, and related information from other agencies, are included to provide members with a comprehensive understanding of the life event’s issues.

Customer profiling, surveys, and focus groups were conducted to identify our members’ needs before my cpf was launched. It also helped us enhance my cpf so that it remains relevant.

Leveraging on the high internet penetration in Singapore
Singapore has a high internet penetration rate of 82% as at 2010 . Through our feedback channels, we have also learnt that our members increasingly want value-added online service. Therefore, the main service delivery channel of my cpf is the internet. This also allows us to serve the maximum number of members, at minimal cost, while supporting the Government-wide shift from manual to e-services.

Redesigning the website and online services
The website was redesigned in 2004 to cater to my cpf. Each life event came to be represented by a picture for easy identification. Information and transactions for each life event were also grouped together, and the online services re-engineered to make them more intuitive and personalized.

The online services include:
• My Statement – A consolidated statement showing members’ CPF balances and amount used under each CPF scheme.
• My Messages – A list of personalized messages showing members important messages relating to their CPF accounts.
• My Requests – A step-by-step guide to help members complete the right online application(s).
• My Activities – An online query tool showing members the real-time status of all their online transactions.

Interactive Retirement Planning Tools
my cpf provides interactive retirement planning tools to help citizens keep track of their retirement savings. The Retirement Ready portal helps citizens manage their CPF savings so that they have sufficient funds for a secure retirement. We also manage a financial education microsite called IM$avvy, which taps on the growing popularity of the new media and Web 2.0 technologies. It provides a platform for the public to network and gain knowledge on how to save and plan for their future.

The widely popular social media channels like Facebook and Twitter were tapped on to broadcast relevant useful financial information and retirement-planning tips. Currently, we have more than 25,000 Facebook fans and over 1,000 Twitter followers.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
In 2004, e-Service’s focus changed from organization-centric to customer-centric, i.e. all e-Services were viewed from a customer point-of-view. Such customer focused approach also led to the Services by CPF Life Event approach. These changes had vastly altered mindsets and service deliverables. E-Services became more than just automating or making the services available electronically, it was about how the layman customers could be engaged and how they could easily achieve their needs.

In 2005, we enhanced the website with the introduction of my cpf personalized page. With every CPF member’s login to the CPF website, their profile would be matched and targeted messages (my Message) are issued to them.

Online games like the “Voyage of Life” online financial board game were also introduced in 2005 to raise the financial literacy of young Singaporeans through play. The first online game competition organised in July 2006 attracted more than 10,000 participants and registered 2.37 million rates on the dedicated competition sites.

In September 2006, we launched a new Customer Relationship Management System (CRMS), known as iCARE, our central repository of customers’ information. iCARE enables the seamless sharing of customers’ information and the status of transactions across the organisation. In the same year, we implemented Mobile Ambassadors. This enabled our CSOs to serve CPF members personally within CPF Service Centres via wireless connections. This also greatly improved the mobility, capability and reach of our CSOs as this implementation paved a way to reach out to CPF members anywhere, anytime as long as wireless connections are available.

In 2007, we implemented the ‘e-Concierge’ service. This was the first ‘one-stop’ e-service application in Singapore public service. All CPF members could use this no-wrong-door service delivery channel to request for any information or services in an authenticated email.

In 2008, tools for the visually impaired “Read Aloud” and “Increase Text” features were introduced with the intention to make CPF website more accessible to a wider group of customers.

In 2009, we moved into new and interactive media to engage younger CPF customers. We developed online quizzes such as “CPF Savviness Index (CSI) Quiz” and “IM$avvy Financial Literacy Quiz” that received over 95,000 entries by the public. The Customer Correspondence Unit (CCU) was also set up to improve the quality and timeliness of correspondence by centralising all customer-facing general correspondence across departments.

In 2010, we launched our 1st iPhone Application – CPF Tools, to reach out to the growing number of iPhone users where they can check their CPF statements and calculate their contributions on their iPhones. Since the launch in September 2010, it has attracted more than 200,000 downloads. A website revamp committee was also set up to revamp CPF e-Services as part of our efforts to continuously provide convenient and accessible services to our members.

In 2011, we collaborated with Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) bank to enable our members to perform payment transactions via OCBC’s Personal Internet Banking (PIB) and Automated Teller Machines (ATM). It brought about greater convenience and allows our members to transact anytime, anywhere.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
Managing change within the organization
It was initially difficult to get staff to think from a customer-centric point of view, and look across all of our schemes to identify those that would affect members at a particular life stage. In implementing my cpf, we took a top-down approach in getting buy-in. As chairperson of the my cpf Steering Committee, DCE(SVC) played an active role in guiding the Directors and the Heads of Department (HODs) as they worked on their life events. The HODs were also tasked to disseminate and explain the concept to their staff. For example, the Customer Service Department trained the CSOs to serve customers by life events. The my cpf concept was also instilled in new staff through briefings during their orientation programme.

Modification of customers’ behaviour
Ideas were generated to modify behaviour such as suggestions to hold classroom training on using online services for the non IT literate, stop counter services to ‘force’ citizens to use online services. However, the task force soon realised through feedback from focus groups, customers and CSOs that while modifying behaviour has its merits, it is a long process and at the end of the day, it may not be effective.

It became clear to us that a more effective way is to know our target groups; gain insights into their lifestyle and their mindset. From there, tailor our services around their daily lives so that it would cause minimal disruption to the target groups and yet reap maximum convenience for them.

The elderly initially needed some persuasion to use the e-counters as they were used to the conventional way of taking a queue number and wait. The problem was resolved by the e-Ambassadors who are stationed at the e-lobby to explain and demonstrate the ease of using the e-counters.

We implemented the ‘Club 55’ service where Citizens above the age 55 are served in designated counters by CSOs who are able to communicate in the mother tongues of the different ethnic groups. The transition for the elderly to start using the Club 55 service was seamless as the reception officers would direct the elderly to join the queue at Club 55. As for m-Ambassador, the project did not face any issues when it was first implemented as the elderly were glad to be served faster when there were crowds at the CPF service centres.

One size does not fit all
Part of this value-add came from the realization that different age groups have different needs. The other realization was that the spectrum of CPF schemes affects our members in many stages of their lives. There was therefore scope for us to package our different schemes and service according to the needs of our members at their different life stages. It led to the development of my cpf’s “Different Strokes for Different Folks” approach which leverages on innovative technologies to ensure there is an e-channel for every Singaporean, regardless of IT savviness, thus helping to enlarge the e-community.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
We were able to leverage on the strengths of different leading-edge technologies to make the whole concept efficient and effective. Ensuring compatibility and inter-operability within my cpf services and back-office applications also contributes to cost savings.

We adopt an open system design when deploying hardware and software. Presently, our main front-end servers are all Microsoft Windows servers. Our applications are designed and developed using open platforms (web-based so as to be compatible and integrated with all systems in our infrastructure). The interfaces of applications also follow standard protocols, e.g. https, TCP/IP, etc.

Since my cpf services is deployed on an open multi-tiered architecture, at the client tier, multiple service channels are available through creative exploitation of technologies such as UMPCs, which widen the reach to our customers. The iPhone application uses Objective C technology and it is implemented on a secured, flexible and robust technology platform to allow rapid applications development. It makes use of multi-touch interfaces to interact with users. At the business middle tier, a host of systems like the iCARE CRMS and Intelligent “Ask Us” FAQ are deployed to offer services like My Messages and My Requests in the CPF portal.

The open system design and architecture of my cpf has allowed us to add on and expand applications/services with ease. For example, citizens can view their CPF statements via multiple channels including mobile phones, kiosks and the portal. It also enables us to provide various service channels to our customers while accessing the same source of data.

This way, my cpf services are incorporated closely into our entire service and system infrastructure so that citizens can enjoy a seamless service experience, including sharing information across multiple agencies.

Supporting these service channels is our iCARE Customer Relationship Management System (CRMS) which allows us to profile our customers and manage all their cases and transactions. This enables us to track our customers’ service experience and understand them better.

The annual budget of my cpf for 2011 is approximately US$4.6 million (1SGD=0.769USD, from XE Currency, 21 Nov 11). The human resources associated with my cpf were members from my cpf Committee and staff involved in the maintenance of my cpf.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
Providing e-services predominantly via my cpf for the highly IT- savvy Singaporean citizenry is the best way to sustain CPF services. In fact, over the last few years since the introduction of my cpf, we have managed to handle the increase in membership, fund size, and transactions while keeping our operating cost low as we build a lean yet efficient organisation.

my cpf is unique because unlike many organisations that push e-services to the public at the expense of the non IT-savvy, we tailored our service delivery to a wide spectrum of customers with vast variance of IT-savviness. Besides introducing IT initiatives for the tech-savvy, we also implemented new e-service channels so that the non-savvy can benefit from IT advances.

The my cpf concept can continue to exist only if our members find it useful. Hence, the information and tools in my cpf are reviewed, enhanced and updated regularly to ensure their continued usefulness. Feedback from members and environmental scanning are also used to further the initiative.

We are currently undergoing a website revamp as part of our continuous efforts to enhance our service delivery to customers. With the revamp of the website, members would be able to access our information in a faster, more robust and more secured way.

Our service has been consistently ranked at the top among public service agencies, and we have often been asked to share with other public service agencies. During such sessions, we showcased the my cpf concept, and set ourselves up as an advocate of customer-centric and integrated services.

The concepts, mindset and technology behind the success of my cpf are transferable to other organisations. The basis of customer segmentation, and the packaging of information and services in an integrated, intuitive manner can be applied to other public service organisations. Over the last 3 years, we have shared our service journey with more than a hundred organisations, both locally and internationally.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
We have excelled in providing courteous, fast and efficient service to our members. This has long distinguished us as a leading public service provider. However, as Singaporeans are becoming more educated and sophisticated, courtesy and efficiency would soon be insufficient to delight them. In fact, it would likely become an expectation.

Anticipating this trend, we began asking ourselves how we should evolve our service to continue delighting our customers. This was why we developed my cpf, which greatly enhances the member’s service experience through the customer-centric design, and with more effective education, we aim to achieve our long term goal of enabling our members to plan well for their retirement.

my cpf was developed for the customers, with the customers. The customer-centric design has changed the customers’ preferred mode of service channel from manual counter to e-service. The implementation of my cpf has also brought about benefits like service agility and cost effectiveness. The m-Ambassadors initiative provides service agility as the service capacity could be increased quickly. This initiative cuts down the queuing time for the elderly who would usually flock to the service centres whenever the government provides grants to their CPF accounts. Since the launch of my cpf, the cost of serving each customer at counters and via e-service has reduced from US$23.23 and US$0.70 respectively in 2003 to US$19.58 and US$0.12 respectively in 2010.

One of the key lessons learnt was the importance of support from the top management as staff will feel empowered, encouraged and valued to be involved in developing the holistic customer service framework for the organisation. Strong service leadership is also critical as he sets clear directions and dedicates resources and support for the team to achieve the goal.

We are encouraged by our resounding success in this service transformation journey. The experience has spurred us to explore more ways to maximise benefits to our customers and to create meaningful and interactive user experiences for better outreach. Driven by our customer-centric mindset, we are confident that we will continue to raise the bar for two-way communication with our citizens.

Through the virtuous cycle of diffusing IT into our services, we empower our customers, save on time, reduce cost, and are able to implement new services quicker. These benefits are extensive and impactful to us and our citizens.

Our creative use of IT has addressed the diverse needs of our customers with varying levels of IT savviness. Many organisations from both local and overseas have sought the secret of our success, which we have gladly shared to help proliferate the benefits of IT to their customers.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Central Provident Fund Board, Singapore
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Hock Keong Ng
Title:   Director (Service & Process Planning)  
Telephone/ Fax:   6229-3262
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   79, Robinson Road, #41-00, CPF Building
Postal Code:   Singapore 068897
Country:   Singapore

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