Success For Singapore International
It was the food cart bashing my knee
that woke me from a pleasant dream. As I grabbed my knee,
I saw the flight attendant with the
“hit-and-run” food cart heading down the
aisle. Is mediocre service becoming the mainstay of
travel on domestic airlines?
I was on the final leg of a long trip
back to Atlanta flying on a well-known, but mediocre
domestic airline. This airline was once known for its
good service, but the level of service has gradually
declined over the years. Only hours before this flight, I
was traveling on Singapore International Airlines
SIA is so superior that they leave
other carriers in their vapor trails. Sure, it is an
overseas carrier and you should expect good service, but
SIA doesn’t even compare to other airlines. The
positive experience on SIA makes the Air
Passenger’s Bill of Rights completely
How do they create this
Above and Beyond Ordinary
Even in economy class, the experience is unforgettable.
Walking down the aisle you will find a pillow and blanket
carefully placed on your seat. Once in the air, smiling
attendants come down the aisles with a choice of
champagne or orange juice carefully avoiding smashing
passengers’ body parts with their carts. After
that, passengers are presented with a special kit
including a toothbrush, toothpaste and special socks for
At the beginning and end of each
flight, a hot towel comes your way to freshen
Particularly pleasing are the
individual monitors on the back of each seat where even
the most wearied traveler can select from over 15 videos,
telephone, audio programs, Nintendo games and
up-to-the-minute travel information.
Clear Vision and
SIA places a priority on quality service. All issues, all
questions and decisions are made as they relate to the
needs of the customer. While other airlines cut back on
service to make more profits, SIA places the
customers’ needs as first priority. The bottom line
for SIA is not the plane, the seat or the destination.
The bottom line is delivering exceptional service, and
the personification of that service.
First-Class Treatment for All
By placing the needs of passengers first, the whole
atmosphere and flight experience changes. I don’t
think I ever saw a peanut on this flight.
Passengers are presented with a menu
with choices. The food in the back of the plane is better
than other carrier’s first-class flights. After
meals, attendants bring liqueurs, beer, juice or
basically anything else you want—no charge. I
almost wanted to say, “Leave me alone—quit
Staff Training and
SIA places a major investment in staff development and
continuous training. This way staff members stay focused
and are able to upgrade their performance. Training and
development fights complacency, keeping crew members more
capable of handling demanding situations. Training is not
only conducted during good economic times, but even
during downturns. SIA’s investment in training goes
on to give the airline a distinct advantage. First, it
allows SIA to fly ahead in service quality when other
carriers may be cutting back. Second, it demonstrates
that continuous learning and development are important
aspects for success, not just something nice to do if we
can afford it.
No Fear of Change and
SIA has a reputation for doing things innovatively.
Instead of copying other airlines, they take the lead.
Instead of charging passengers a $5 “entertainment
fee,” they give their headsets away. Instead of
charging for drinks, they give them away. They give out
free postcards and provide the postage. Passengers in the
“Raffles Class” section have seats that
recline into beds. They benchmark other service
industries such as hotels and restaurants to make their
service more comfortable, convenient and creative.
Consistent Communication is Critical
With over 27,000 staff members,
representing 25 nationalities, communication is critical.
SIA publishes a number of newsletters and publications
keeping people informed of important matters. Regular
meetings between management and staff keep communications
flowing. A “Staff Ideas in Action” program
helps keep new suggestions and ideas moving forward for
action and improvement.
Recognize, Reinforce and Reward the
Excellent service is a learned behavior requiring
constant reinforcement and recognition. Unless an
organization develops systems and processes to reward and
recognize the behavior they need for success, they will
never get it. At SIA excellent performance is rewarded
with increased pay and promotions, but the most
prestigious award is reserved for superior acts of
customer service. “The Deputy Chairman’s
Award” is given yearly to teams or individuals that
have managed unique customer situations with exceptional
selfless acts of service. This award carries no monetary
reward, but it is the most highly-valued recognition in
SIA. Winners and their families fly to Singapore for a
special dinner celebration. Their story is published in
the monthly Outlook Magazine, and their personal status
as a “Deputy Chairman’s Award Winner”
remains a badge of honor for life.