Times have changed. Almost every element in our diners’ experience depends on the quality of service. Even for the Jumbo group – which manages Chui Huay Lim Teochew Cuisine, Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh, JPOT,Yoshimaru Ramen Bar and the well-known Jumbo Seafood chain – takes a jumbo-sized approach to delivering good service.

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I visited the Tampines 1 outlet last weekend and was amazed at several innovations to processes and systems which JPOT implemented. At the entrance, staffs do not need to write down the names of customers and call for them when a table is ready. Just as in a bank, you go straight to a machine and press a button to get a number. The number will flash on an electronic screen when their table is ready. This is so smart!

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Once our queue number appeared on the screen on the wall, we were guided to our table. We did not have to wait for service staff to serve us. We just pulled out an iPad from under the table and started ordering. It was rather easy to navigate the menu on the iPad.

When we clicked and confirmed our order, our selection was sent to the kitchen. And within minutes, the food arrived on our table. This definitely helps to save time and the staff could offer more personalized service.

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How many times have you walked into a restaurant and they are writing orders down on a pen and pad of paper? Then sometimes, the food took very long to arrive, or worse, you ordered chicken rice but duck rice came?

Ordering via iPad means I don’t have to bother the service staff all the time, and keep waving at them to grab their attention to order food. Especially for steamboat, imagine, I want to order additional plate of fishballs, I have to wave and order and wait. Then I want to order a plate of cabbage, I have to repeat the process. This makes the staff very busy and my waiting time will be much longer. Plus they may get my orders wrong or miss out my orders. I can just play around with the iPad, order what I want, send my order and it will immediately to delivered to the kitchen. Aiyo, makes work easier, smarter and safer!

In the name of efficiency, Jumbo has also joined a reservation system called Chope to save time. Customers book through the system, which will send SMS reminders. This means the staff at the outlet need not call up customers to confirm reservations.

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At the dining table, I was served by very polite and attentive staff who would assist me in every way they can. Look, they gave us a red cloth of cover our bags and a ziplock bag to put our mobile phones. The dining table also has pull-out arm rest, or you can place your mobile phone there.

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At every table, there is a food safety reminder for you, to remind you to only use the tongs to handle uncooked food and chopsticks for cooked food. This makes dining a safer experience for customers as many do not realise that uncooked food has lots of bacteria that can cause stomach upset.

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What I love most about JPOT is their DIY sauces corner where you can mix and match your own sauces for the steamboat.
The sauces are adequate and the spread included condiments like JPOT soya sauce, sha cha sauce, garlic chilli sauce, garlic oil, Chinese parley, spring onion, leek, chilli padi and sesame oil.

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When we entered JPOT, we were immediately greeted by the warm aroma of the various pots stewing away at each. Part of the fun of hotpot is the interactive nature of the experience and the chance to cook the food yourself. This dining concept was conceived in 2009 and their broths take on a wide range of flavours – from mild to spicy, and are enjoyed in individual pots that make for a unique yet hygienic way to enjoy your hotpot.

At the Tampines 1 outlet, we can pick from eight choices of soup base – superior broth, Bak Kut Teh, herbal, Laksa, Silky Porridge, Tom Yam, Vegetarian, and Salted Vegetable and Duck. I had the superior broth while the boy had herbal soup.

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Want to boil and cook your meat longer? Want your noodles firmer or softer? At JPOT, you’re in complete control. Each table for two is designed with two induction cooking areas, so that you can have your own hotpot if you like, while your partner has one too. There are touch-temperature controls where you can control the heat, which is safer compared to traditional steamboats heated by fire.

I managed to talk to one service staff who delivered our food. And so I asked her, “WAH! Here everything so computerised, then you all very free lor?” Her reply was, “You are wrong miss, we are busy with food preparation, serving customers and clearing plates.”

Indeed, with these new technologies, there has always been a debate about workers being displaced by machines. But, I think otherwise. Automation makes work easier and more efficient, not necessarily to replace them. And in the case of JPOT, staffs time is freed up to cover other pressing duties without sacrificing customer service, which will hence improve number of table turns and customer satisfaction.

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The biggest difference between JPOT and other steamboat joints is the freshly made ingredients. You can go for all vegetarian, meat, quality meats, seafood or live seafood – it’s your choice.

Dishes we ordered include marinated pork, pork liver, pork belly, marinated beef, prawns, fish balls, enoki, Chinese cabbage and beancurd. I specially love their marinated beef because we can crack an quail egg to the meat, mix it before putting it into our steamboat. The quail egg actually makes the texture of the meat more tender and tasty.

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Apart from ala carte orders, there are set lunch and dinner menus.The pricing for set lunch starts from $14.80++ per person and set dinner pricing starts from $58++ for 2 persons. High tea menu is from $9.80++ (only available on weekday from 2pm to 5pm). And, there is a self-service drinks bar which offers a free flow of your chosen drink.

With so many restaurants complaining about the shortage of manpower, JPOT’s implementation of these systems has definitely reduced the number of steps in the ordering process which in turn makes the whole restaurant more productive and offers a better customer experience. They can handle MORE orders as compared to unautomated restaurants, where workers might spend much time walking around to take orders and serve drinks, leading to long waits for customers who are now demanding faster service.

After JPOT went through this Customer-Centric Initiative with help from NTUC, customers could be seated more than 8 minutes faster, and only waited half the time to be served their food. Not only that, 9 out of 10 staffs got a 10% pay raise! I find it quite unbelievable that the union is behind these initiatives to make things better for the customer and also the staffs.

Judging by the crowds that throng at JPOT throughout the day, it certainly looks like they’ve found a winning formula (and one that you really should make a reservation for)!

JPOT
Address: 10 Tampines Central 1, Tampines 1 #03-16
Tel: 6532 3536