Excellent customer service goes a long way.

Monday, 30 April 2012

We are fond of going to Hokey Pokey for some indoor playground fun for BabyMoo because they cater more for children of his age group and he can play comfortably amongst toys which is suitable for him. In fact, we are there for a good two hours every other weekend, and BabyMoo gets all excited when he knows we're in the vicinity of Hokey Pokey. We're always made to feel welcome by the owners who genuinely care and love giving toddlers a time of their lives. The place is open and bright, and BabyMoo is always happy with the attention from all the Aunties there!

I'm sure a lot of parents feel the same way as we do, so it's pretty natural that they are gaining popularity and we see more and more toddlers having fun there. The first couple of times we were there, BabyMoo had all the toys almost to himself, but now, we have had to return on more than one occasion as the place is booked for private parties, or there are just too many children on the grounds.

We dropped by Hokey Pokey on Saturday afternoon, but since there was a birthday party going on, we tried to check out other indoor playgrounds instead.

We went to Polliwogs but decided to forego the experience as it was packed to the rafters with children as well as a birthday party going on. BabyMoo got all excited at the sight of sand and sea, so we took him down for his first experience walking down the beach, and getting sand in between in his toes. He grinned and yelled in glee... and if it wasn't for Mummy the worry wart who noticed the absence of nearby changing facilities, DaddyMoo would have let him play in the sand.

Not dressed for the impromptu walk on the beach... but BabyMoo was still a happy bub!

Since that plan was abandoned, we moved on to Great World City, where I've heard that Amazonia has a separate area for toddlers up to 3. We walked away without even stepping stockinged feet into the grounds, simply because the front line attendants weren't exactly helpful. 

Ms.I-am-working-here-just-to-stay-in-Singapore-and-not-because-I-love-making-kids-happy was derisively curt and gave us single word answers to our queries, doing so without even bothering to maintain eye contact at all. We were not asking ridiculous questions... given the absence of sufficient information regarding pricing and entry policies, all we did was simply ask the admission charges, and procedures. Her colleague, Ms. Don't-disturb-me-I'm-busy-dolling-up-under-the-counter-just-in-case-I-catch-the-eye-of-an-angmo-dad wasn't much better. She was crouched under the counter with a mega eye shadow palette in her hands, not giving a care whether there were customers or otherwise. Ah well... perhaps we caught them on a bad day, but for $21.00 for 2 hours (for children 3 and under) - they are comparatively more expensive than other indoor playgrounds. Costs aside, their prime location, huge grounds and (undoubtedly, high overheads in the form of the two non-locals to greet us) does not give them an excuse to overlook these little aspects of service.

Poor BabyMoo didn't get to go anywhere since it was almost 7.30pm and his tummy was rumbling... so after dinner, Daddy decided to get him a kitchen set to play with at home since he loved pottering about the kitchenettes at Hokey Pokey so much!

Iron chef in the making!

Needless to say, he totally loved it... refusing to go to bed till late, and was still cooking up a storm at 12.30 in the morning!

We decided to head on down to Hokey Pokey again yesterday, as we promised BabyMoo that we will bring him there to play again when he almost burst into tears after not being able to play there the day before. We have decided from early on that we will never make empty promises to BabyMoo, regardless of his age, and whatever that we can manage, we will try to fulfil. Those that we can't - will involve an explanation to make sure that he understands the situation.

When we reached there, there was another party going on... and we were actually quite surprised to note that a lot of the kids involved look almost Primary school going age. Usually the children who are spotted there are below 3, since the older kids would enjoy being at a more rough and tumble playground than their younger counterparts. It was around 4.30pm, and we were very nicely informed that the party will end at 5.00pm. Hokey Pokey owners were so apologetic about us making a wasted trip yet again, but since it was only half an hour to go, we decided that BabyMoo could do with a sugar treat to prepare him for play!

Blackforest cheesecake at Bakerzin. He finished the entire slice!
(Well... Mummy was allowed a teeny tiny bite!)

At a quarter past 5, we headed on down to Hokey Pokey, where we were greeted with the sight of them trying to clear the entire area of children on adrenaline highs. No mean feat! Apparently, some parents decided to let their kids have another extra session of fun, so the place was pretty full even after the party ended.

BabyMoo was thrilled at finally being able to play in a 'familiar yet unfamiliar' place, filled with toys to pique his never-sated curiosity. He went on the big slide into the ball pit several times, laughing and happy, until he got body-slammed on the face (he was in the ball pit) by a much older boy sliding down, who was left unsupervised by his parents.

Now we aren't anal parents, recognising that accidents do happen, especially in a place like a playground, where the kids play in close proximity. Being young as they are, they aren't aware of their own strengths and how to control it accordingly... so we were prepared for such things when we first started exposing BabyMoo to group play.

What incensed DaddyMoo is the fact that the boy's supervising parent didn't even bother to acknowledge the incident! After landing atop of BabyMoo and kicking him in between his eyes landing in the ball pit, he was given a pat on the head(!!) by his parent, as though to assure him that he didn't do anything wrong. For his benefit, the boy actually looked mortified when he saw / felt what he did, and BabyMoo scrunching his face up and letting out a loud howl beneath his body! Of course, since his Daddy assured him that he didn't do anything wrong - of course he didn't... he went back to doing his Red Indian yells and jumping off instead of sliding down into the ball pit.

BabyMoo was upset for about 30sec, and went back to playing around with a huge, red angry bump on his forehead, in between his eyes. He winced when I rubbed at it. Daddy was extremely pissed off by the whole incident, fuelled by the actions of the father who was obviously pretty proud of his son's acrobatic, rough antics. Look... we can understand doting on one's kid, but hey - not at the expanse of another child! Perhaps due to BabyMoo's size, he is often mistaken for older than he actually is (BabyMoo will be 16 months next week), and that father could be wondering why our kid didn't move away or isn't as agile as his kid (they are almost the same size), who was speaking in full sentences, and is obviously older than 3 - but that is no excuse for being unapologetic at what his son did.

Daddy took him off the playground... and fortunately BabyMoo didn't protest at all, for we have   always told him that we will bring him out to play, but when we say he's had enough, protesting will not do him any good, apart from forfeiting his next play opportunity.

When we signed out, one of the Mom-owners queried as to why we were leaving way before the two hours of play is up, so I informed her about the incident. When she heard, she informed the others, and I'm sure BabyMoo felt much better with all the fussing and attention he received! They went the extra mile and asked if we wanted a cream to help with the swelling and heal the bruising before it gets egg-like. We were truly appreciative, and some Hirudoid cream was applied, which they mentioned is good for bumps and bruises, and which all of their children use.

Just earlier today, I received a call from Hokey Pokey.

J mentioned that on behalf of Hokey Pokey, she apologises once again for the unpleasant incident, and explaining that although the birthday boy is 6 and thus falls into their targeted age range, some of the invited children were much older. She enquired on BabyMoo, and informed us that as a gesture of goodwill and apology, she would like to send some vouchers our way. I was pleasantly surprised, not to mention thoroughly impressed that they truly care for their customers and little ones. I told her that the vouchers are a nice touch, although we totally do not blame them for the incident, indemnity clauses notwithstanding. Hokey Pokey Management is totally not responsible for the accidents that happen, and as parents, we try to protect our kids from these unpleasant things, although we can only do so much.

I informed her that there is no need to mail us the vouchers - that small incident is no cause for us to stop bringing BabyMoo to Hokey Pokey... and we will be pleased to pick it up when we drop by the next time round. Just because a parent's action leaves a bad taste in the mouth does not mean that we will deny BabyMoo a place that he loves so much!

The hubs and I have spoken about how we love to go to Hokey Pokey because of its excellent customer service and well maintained environment even before this isolated incident took place. That opinion has not changed at all... in fact, we are more inclined to visit because we know that not only BabyMoo is cared for, these mummies are fully aware that more often than not, the parents are the ones who need that extra incentive to sway their vote of confidence when it comes to their children.

Hokey Pokey has integrated that seamlessly into their standard operating procedures, and in so doing, have made us loyal customers. Kudos to the Management of Hokey Pokey... a lot of establishments should take a ball out of your ball pit!

Update: The Herudoid cream worked wonders... BabyMoo has a faint yellow-green bruise, but not much swelling at all! Thank you!


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  2. That is good customer service and follow up. Unfortunately accidents like that do happen. Once we were at another playground, there was this kid who was throwing balls at my boy. That really annoyed my kid so he threw balls back at him. My husband was watching everything and knew what was going on. Then the other father came by and wanted to tell me kid off without finding out what happened. Only to have my hubs tell him about his son's misdemeanor. I find that parents need to be told if their kids misbehave. Otherwise, I'm not sure what kind of kids are we bringing up these days. :(

    1. Yes... I do agree!

      I would like to be informed, too - should my son misbehaves.

      The thing about this incident which my husband got pretty damn mad about was that the parent was leaving his son to his own devices (unsupervised, most times, because he was standing there but was engaged in either his phone or talking to his few friends who were seated at the seats outside of the play area with his back turned). His son wasn't to blame, as perhaps he was not aware that rough play can endanger the younger kids. It can be hard to actually explain the concept of safety for others at that age. After the incident, he actually patted his son and tousled his hair as though telling him that he wasn't in the wrong... and didn't even acknowledge the incident to us at all, even though my son was bawling.

      He looks pretty proud of his son as well... but maybe that sneer was a permanent feature?

      Anyways - it's over and done with. I'm off to buy a big tube of Hirodoid Cream! (Of which a friend mentioned: You didn't know about this cream? It's like a must have in every household!)

      I'm old school, I use Zam Buk, but has since given up on using it on the boy as he has too many bruises to count! :)

  3. The kitchen set looks pretty impressive! May I know where you got it?

    We haven't been to Hokey Pokey yet but looks likes it's worth going!

    1. Hi Sherlyn,

      We got it at IKEA! Well worth the $ since it's pretty sturdy and not too 'girly' looking.

      Hokey Pokey is great for toddlers... do drop by to have a look :)

  4. Hi

    I happen to be the mummy of the "3-yr old" boy you mentioned in your post. My friend recognized you @ Hokey Pokey & informed me of this.

    First of all, I apologise in behalf of my hub & kid of what happened that day. But I would also like to clarify a few things that kinda annoyed me.

    1) My boy is only 2yrs old & not as old as you think he is.

    2) My hub wasn't showing any form of proudness after the incident. But more to checking if my boy is doing fine. Like you said, none of the kids are at fault, being in a close-proximity playground.

    3) My boy wasn't left unsupervised. We chose to let him be more independent & watch from afar - not be a dog's tail following him around. At the age of 2, we prefer teaching independence. And if you're over-protective of your son, I guess paying the extra $5 for both parents to supervise the child would have been more apt. Your hub could let him off @ the slide & you @ the ball pit to catch him.

    4) The reason we concluded that your hub was over-protective was only because we witnessed how he glared at another boy (aged 3 - 4), when he took the mini broom & dustpan from your boy. C'mon, he's just a small kid. Glaring & staring @ him liketab enemy is uncalled for.

    5) My boy wasn't yelling like a red Indian. He was having fun with friends he made during his time there. It was pure fun.

    With that said, I apologized again if my kid has hurt your boy. But it was unintentional.

    1. Hi There,

      First of all, thank you for taking the time to leave a comment, and clarifying the incident.

      As I mentioned above, we are not 'over-protective' and we totally understand that in playgrounds and when kids are at play, there is bound to be unintentional accidents.

      It is also important that I reiterate that I totally do not blame your son at all, for all children aren't aware of safety issues - and thus we are there to not only supervise play, but also to ensure that they are doing so in a safe environment. I am all for advocating independence, and contrary to what I feel that you think, we are not 'over-protective' or attempt to 'cocoon' our son in a safety net.

      My apologies for thinking that your son is older than he is. He certainly lead us to believe as such because he is mature and is able to communicate well, which I'm sure comes from you and your husband's efforts to nurture him :)

      My husband is actually more relaxed about falls, bumps and bruises than I am. He's always reminding me that boys are bound to get these - and encourage independence too, as much as you both do. After discussing this issue on our way home from Suntec, whereby I voiced out that I was pretty surprised about his 'anger' about the incident... he mentioned that he wasn't angered about the fact that the boy got slammed into unintentionally (yes, he totally knows that) by your son, but it was more of your husband's apparent 'nonchalance' toward the whole incident. Now I apologise if it is an assumption on our part, but at that moment, it appears to be so.

      The issue here is not about supervision or independence, neither is it about over-protection, rather it is more about acknowledging and perhaps apologising for something that your son definitely (this we are sure of, given the 'shocked' look he portrayed as he looked to Daddy for assistance) did not mean to do. It would have been nice for your husband to at least show a little civility. We are not expecting you and your husband to tell your son off, for sure, as in an incident like this, we would not do so as well, apart from telling our son that he ought to be careful the next time as there are younger children around.

      That being said, I do believe that my husband 'glared' at the other kid also because he was already upset over the reaction of your husband previous to that. If it was me in supervisory mode, perhaps I would come off as being more 'protective' than he is!

      We have had no problems with our son at hokey Pokey thus far, and all the parents we have encountered have been nothing short of friendly. My son has had himself kicked, toys being wrenched out of his hands, and the usual stuff that happens when kids get excited... in turn, we have had to apologise countless times to other parents as well. All this is part of watching him grow up and we totally are prepared having to do so for as long as he is yet unable to do so himself. We fully intend to have him apologise for any actions, unintentional or otherwise, in the future, once he is able to talk and give voice to his feelings.

      I apologise if we come across as over protective parents, the kind that is a nightmare at every playground and coming across as selfish and self contained. Please understand that it is not the incident that transpired per se, but more of the resultant action of your husband which we weren't too comfortable with.

      Thank you once again for letting me know that you are aware, and for apologizing for the incident. We truly understand that it was unintentional.

  5. Glad to know that baby Moo is fine.

    Regardless of what parenting style ("over-protectiveness" versus "independence") each parent adopts, I think that it is also apt to to step in to guide a child to play nice / be a bit more careful + to apologise when it is apt for the situation even when it is an accident.

    These would be values I believe, for most parents, to want to pass on to our children and this is especially so if the child were to have a younger sibling.

    1. My sentiments, exactly!! :) Thank you for seeing my point.

    2. Thank goodness baby Moo is fine.

      I always take opportunities like that to educated my own kids.

  6. Hiya... I am impressed by Hokey Pokey's management too. My 4yo will probably be a bulldozer inside there, though it is a very "safe" place for my lil bub to play in.

    I do agree that accidents are bound to happen, especially when you have kids and slides and balls in the same place. But parental "control" works both ways, and it is best to teach kids to look out for the younger ones. I do that with my older boy all the time (cos ya know... kids have short-term memory loss syndrome), not just with his younger bro but with younger kids in general.

    Glad the bruise is healing... think I should get me a tube of that cream too! Boys and bruises go hand in hand... :P

    1. BabyMoo plays rough, too - and we always inform him that his actions can hurt physically.

      We keep an eye out on him at playgrounds not so much because we are afraid of accidents ON him, but so as to ensure that in so doing, the chance of him hurting other kids unintentionally is minimised. He may still be young, but I believe that it's never too early to introduce them to the concept of safe play.

      I was informed that Hirudoid cream is a 'must-have' for every household, especially if there are kids present... and I'm pleased to note that BabyMoo's bruise cleared up upon the 2nd application! It actually seems to work better than Zam-Buk! :)

  7. Great customer service from Hokey Pokey! I went there with K before and I had to remind him to watch out for younger kids all the time, so after our experience there, I decided that Hokey Pokey was more suited for kids below 4. PLus having the big buffalo K around the younger ones, makes me very very nervous..hehehe Totally agree that it is not over-protective for your hb to be keeping an eye out for C, kids should be supervised like a hawk esp when they are below 3 in public play areas like these. Apart from preventing uncalled for incidences to happen, it gives great opportunity to address misbehavior or highlight desired behavior to look out for the younger kids on the spot. Too many take that parents tend to take it for granted.

    1. True that, Rachel... after all, Hokey Pokey was opened when the 5 mum-owners realised that there seems to be a lack of indoor playgrounds which cater to the younger kids below 3.

      All in all, I don't think the issue is about age here. I am all for the kids having fun and making new friends in a happy environment, but the reason that parents are encouraged to supervise is so that play situations amongst kids of different personalities will not escalate into a free for all, tears or injuries. I suppose parents should be there not to 'control' the child, but to 1. keep the younger ones safe 2. ensure that the older kids play safe.

  8. I agree accidents happen. We parents are prepared for that. Regardless of what may have happened between children, sometimes we have to intervene the play to give a quick check and/or correction with our child and make sure that all parties are alright. It's social manners. I don't think its about being over protective. At this age, they need to be led. Nonetheless, I am glad the cream worked well with Babymoo! I've never heard of it myself! :p

    1. Thank you, Adeline... I couldn't have said it better myself! :)

  9. Thumbs up for the good service you experiences at Hokey Pokey. Even though Sophie is turning 3 this year, I will still watch over her when she plays. Not because I'm over protective but kids being kids, sometimes they get over excited and do things that they are not supposed to. I try not to interfere and encourage her to play on her own. There are times when older kids shove and push her and I'll tell her to move away from them. But similarly, if she ever does the same, I'll make sure she apologizes. It's all part of them growing up and learning EQ.

    1. EQ is so important, don't you think? I believe that a child learns by observing, and when we lead by example, it becomes almost a given to them - a way of life.

      Being unable to control their movements and emotions, it is then up to the parents to instil these values, and teach them humility and civility.

      Even as adults, we are still in the process of learning every day. Kindness, courtesy and realising the appropriate responses to situations is all part of surviving in society.

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  12. Aww. I hope BabyMoo is okay now. He is too cute to be injured like that. Hmm. Anyway, I’m glad that Hokey Pokey immediately apologized, and that they were able to think of a way to make it up to you and BabyMoo. It clearly shows that they value their customers so much, and that they’re even willing to go great lengths to make their clients feel very special.

    Ruby Chelmsford

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