Business service strategy seeks to engage in business in a manner that has never been done before. The core objective is to reap benefits and earn a competitive advantage in the market place. This report will unpack the business service strategy adopted by one of the most successful Asian airlines, Singapore Airlines Limited (SIA). This case study begins by unwarping the elements of SIA's workforce management program. Its advertising strategy is diagnosed, and appropriate recommendations made. The third section highlights the effectiveness of SIA's system for measuring service quality.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) states that cabin crews are a vital component of its service strategy. The elements of SIA's workforce management program include young crew policy, training program, performance measurement, feedback, and communication procedures.
Human beings are assets, vitally important to service companies due to the natural features of the service industry (Shahnawaz, 2015). As such, HR management methods and the quality of human assets are difﬁcult for opponents to mimic. SIA places a heavy focus on all factors of selection, training and inspiration, especially for its front-line staff. Five connected and mutually helpful components natural in SIA’s workforce management program play a key part in SIA’s ability to provide its business technique of service quality in an affordable way. As described below, such a reputable workforce management program serves success for the firm and does not need any changes.
Stringent selection and recruitment processes
HR technique starts with employment, where SIA assumes a very comprehensive and tight process. Crew candidates are required to fulfill many specifications starting with a preliminary testing looking at age, educational qualiﬁcations and physical features (Young and Post, 1993). After these guideline specifications, they perform three interviews, uniform assessments, a water conﬁdence test, attend a tea party and even a psychometric assessment. From the annual 16,000 applications, only some 500 to 600 new cabin teams are employed to cover 10 % turnover rate such as both directed and voluntary attrition (Shahnawaz, 2015). After the preliminary training, the new hire is properly supervised for the ﬁrst six months of ﬂying through per month reviews from the in-ﬂight manager during this probationary period. Usually around 75 % are conﬁrmed for a preliminary ﬁve-year agreement, some 20 % have their probation prolonged, and the rest exit the organization. Despite the strict techniques and tight guidelines about behavior, many knowledgeable youths around the area apply to SIA. This is due to the firm's recognized social position and charm associated with SIA’s cabin team. SIA’s popularity as a service innovator in the air travel market and a holistic developer of talents allows it to have its choice of candidates. Many school leavers and graduate students see SIA as a suitable organization to work for.
Extensive investment in training and retraining
SIA places significant focus on coaching that is one of its points of interest in its human management strategy (Young and Post, 1993). Even though coaching is often stressed as a key factor of success in service sectors, SIA continues to be the air travel with the biggest focus on this part. Recently enrolled cabin crews are needed to perform intense four-month coaching programs – the lengthiest and most extensive in the industry. Crews are also needed to begin 29 months of extensive “on-line” coaching before any advancement to ﬁrst ofﬁcer. SIA’s coaching is designed to allow flight crews to provide grateful support reﬂecting comfort and ambiance while keeping a picture of power and conﬁdence in the passengers’ thoughts. The firm’s holistic coaching contains not only functional and safety issues, but also beauty care, fabulous food, and wine, in addition to the art of conversation
Empowerment of front-line staff to control quality
The culture of most effective service ﬁrms contains myths and stories of workers successfully recuperating unsuccessful dealings, making an extra effort to make a customer’s day, or assisting customers prevent catastrophe. Employees need motivation to give prudence effort. It is relevant that workers can create choices individually as front-line employees frequently have to deal with customers on their own (Young and Post, 1993). This is because it is not possible or even suitable for supervisors to regularly observe employees’ activities. Top management insists that employees must have a clear idea of the limitations of their power and that it is the liability of leadership to communicate and describe the power boundaries. Case in point, the regular luggage allocation is 20kg, but front-line employees at SIA are motivated to increase it to 25 or 50kg if they think that it is justiﬁable and right.
2) Advertising campaign
SIA unleashed a new advertising campaign recently. As the top Asian brand, this stature continues to draw comments in the local media. Though branding experts feel that SIA should move away from its Singapore Girl traditional focus, I believe the firm should stick to this strategy.
Whether their marketing is about new locations, new aircraft, on board delicacies, or new chairs and entertainment services, the famous ‘SIA Girl’ is always presented. Because the main point here for SIA is not the aircraft, chair, enjoyment or location. The main point here is providing high-quality support, and the ‘SIA Girl’ is the brand identity, the service personification. Of course, it takes the entire SIA group to provide superb services. However, displaying an image of a cheerful professional, a qualified pilot or a helpful phone reservationist would not bring the same reliability in exterior communication: The ‘SIA Girl’ symbolizes outstanding high-quality support. In the airline’s exterior interaction, she always exists.
Aspiring Flight crews understand that a career with SIA can equip them with critical skills necessary to keep them in good position for years. Some flight crews are currently pursuing careers in marketing, customer relations, PR and many more. Their future employees are buying into this brand promise. Educated youth send applications to SIA because of such perceived value. The Singapore Girl increases this perceived value of SIA brand by being the firm’s visible face and quality icon (Menkhoff and Wah, 2011).
To succeed, a firm’s employer brand must match its customer-facing brand. As it appears, the Singapore Girl is doing a fantastic job of carrying this alignment across prospective employees. Independent agencies named SIA the best employer brand in Singapore. As the dynamic Asian business environment is marked by a war of talent, SIA will do well if it sticks with the Singapore Girl as the core element of its advertising campaign. This great brand strategy will help SIA to attract high-quality talent, as well as win more customers.
3) SIA's system for measuring service quality
The airline has adopted the strategy of customer feedback to measure its service quality (Young and Post, 1993). SIA makes a serious effort to keep in contact with customers through in-flight reviews, client focus groups and fast responses to every complaint or compliment they get. Through feedback from such surveys, the management can establish whether their services are meeting customer expectations or not. SIA then consolidates this feedback with other key data to generate a quarter ‘Service Efficiency Index’ that is tightly monitored throughout the air travel. Regular flyers are kept well connected with special information, eye-catching offers and journals sent consistently to members of Priority Passenger Service (PPS). Moreover, very frequent flyers accomplish a top level ‘Solitaire’ position with a variety of useful privileges: most practical check-in, additional luggage allocation, priority sitting and more.
SIA's strategy to deliver quality includes six main points. They are Democratic organization, smallest units to carry out tasks, delegate authority, creating an environment where delegated responsibility can be used effectively, training and retraining are objectives, and one department is not more important than another is. After a close analysis of data regarding the company, it seems they are doing well in terms of adhering to the quality service strategy. Nevertheless, looking at the six main points, there is room for improvement at SIA. To begin with, the firm adheres to only three of the key point listed above. They insist on creating small work units to complete tasks. The aim of valuing small department and crew sizes is a brilliant concept, and they are doing this successfully. Moreover, SIA is successfully training and retraining experienced and new hires while maintaining the highest degree of a democratic company as possible.
Reports suggest one area of concern. The firm has grown tremendously thus forgetting that to deliver its key for success, excellent service; it cannot be attained by crew training and their Singapore Girl advertising campaign. Essentially, SIA is violating the fourth element of creating an environment where delegated responsibility can be used effectively. The firm is violating this policy in two ways. First, it is not using staff feedback to foster a quality-working atmosphere and quality service (Hart and Lytle, 1989). To be precise, most crew staff prefers having a set crew. On the other hand, the management prefers to rotate crewmembers. This indicates the management does not accept any suggestions and feedback from the staff. As a result, it strengthens a discord that hinders personnel from effectively executing their duties. Neither does it promote a working atmosphere that rewards responsibility. Again, crewmembers have reported an absence of communication. SIA has failed to address these issues properly.
5) The plan to introduce slot machines
Inflight gambling has been around for many decades with Singapore Airways being the first to introduce slot machines (Hart and Lytle, 1989). Reports reveal that they set up slot machines in the aisles on aircrafts. However, the pattern only survived for a few weeks and then was scraped. In the 90s, Swissair also had gambling application on their flights and travelers could play blackjack, poker, and keno. However, it seemed other rivals were going to imitate, until the 1998 Swissair plane crash. Air accident researchers ruled a failure of the jet's in-flight entertainment program as a justification for the catastrophe. SIA do not have the technological innovation in place at this time to hold the inflight slot machines. This is attributable to the high cost of the Wi-Fi technological innovation that would be needed for it. They should rather wait for the cost to drop.
This case study serves one vital lesson; firms must clearly concentrate on what they want to give customers. It could be high-quality service or low cost. In this case, SIA opted for the former. Though a formal service strategy could be useful, it must be well implemented. SIA is an example. To sustain the excellent quality service, the leaders must not only ensure effective communication with employees but also treat them as critical company assets. Moreover, new hires should be chosen appropriated, the right training offered, and proper behaviors rewarded.