How Singaporean Companies Need to React to USA’s Election Results

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Who’s still reeling from shock over the election results? I know I am. After all, the current President-elect just recently took aim at Singapore. Here’s what we should be prepared for, and how – because we’re in for a chaotic time.

Regardless of your political views on Brexit and the USA election, Trump’s win has carved out a period of economic uncertainty, further dragging down the Asian stock markets. Just yesterday, Singapore stocks finished 1.1% lower. Of course, the market could recover once the shock wears off, but even economists are struggling to get a clear view of the future.

Challenge your assumptions

Who here thought Clinton was a shoo-in for President? If you’ve been watching late night talk shows, reading news articles, and basically following any form of social media, you probably did.

In our post on customer loyalty and engagement, we found that only 1 in 27 unhappy customers actually submit complaints to you. Similarly, not everyone’s voices can be found on the internet, and not everything that is said can be accepted at face value.

 

 

For example, being the most followed person on Instagram doesn’t necessarily translate into the highest album sales. The 5th most hated man in America on the other hand had the 5th best selling album in 2015. And being constantly criticised didn’t stop Trump from winning the election.

How many followers your business has online doesn’t necessarily translate into sales – the vocal minority isn’t a good reflection of your customers’ actual feelings. Only a small percentage actually lets you know about their unhappiness (and happiness), just like only a percentage of your customers will bother to follow you on social media.

 

46.9% of 231,556,622 eligible voters didn’t vote

(and some 11,000 voted for a dead gorilla). Let that sink in for a while. Some of the top reasons for not voting in 2014? Too busy, not interested, and “forgot to vote”.

 

 

How do you reach passive, silent customers? You must actively seek feedback and keep an eye on your customers’ repurchasing habits, incentivising product ratings and promoting easy ways for them to indicate their satisfaction/dissatisfaction. Ecommerce not only makes it easier to reach your customers, but collect data about them.

Are your customers older folk? Then they’re probably not as active on social media as younger Millennials, who may or may not have the financial capacity to purchase your products. After all, many are still paying up on exorbitant student loans.

 

 

Remember that your customers ultimately vote with their wallets, not by liking your posts on Facebook and Instagram. If your older customers are not engaging with you online but you can’t figure out why sales have stalled, you can always fall back on the traditional methods of physical surveys and interviews, with rewards for participation.

 

Start seeking alternatives

We’re not saying you should discard long relationships with US partners and suppliers – but you need to be mindful that if Trump carries out his promises (like dissolving the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and charging 35% tax on American companies that outsource), prices of American goods and potentially Chinese goods will rise in Singapore.

Can you produce the parts you need yourself? Are there other countries you can import from? Perhaps you can even give a local supplier a chance. Anyone with a basic understanding of economics knows that free trade is the best for all involved, but in the coming years that may no longer be an option.

 

 

Don’t forget that there are government schemes to help your workers improve on existing skills and attain new ones, on top of schemes to improve your productivity and fund research and development for new products.

 

Brain gain?

Things aren’t bad all over. Singapore has been suffering from a brain drain problem for a while – in 2002, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong criticised Singaporeans who would “run at the drop of a hat” or didn’t feel a sense of belonging, calling them “fair-weather Singaporeans” and “quitters”.

 

 

On the other hand, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has pointed out that Singaporeans can gain experience, learn more about the world, and pick up ideas before returning to Singapore one day.

We hope things don’t ever come to this, but should the US jobs market become hostile to foreigners, we may get some our top talent back. We have had a lack of talented engineers and IT talent in Singapore for a while, and reports suggest that this may be cause for the frequent MRT breakdowns.

Companies should be on the lookout for returning talent, or new graduates who have not yet ventured overseas to pursue their dreams in Silicon Valley.

 

Closing thoughts

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“The US is like the weather: we can’t change it so we adapt to it.”

Were you surprised by the election results? Who would you have voted for, and why? Singapore’s presidential election will take place next year, and hopefully everyone is excited to get involved.
If the US election taught us anything, it’s not to rely on others to do their part – every single vote counts, and things can change very quickly. Let’s work on ourselves and #MakeSingaporeGreatAgain.