Clarity and Commitment
SIA's focus on service is completely clear. The mission
statement and core values establish without question that
quality service to customers is a fundamental objective and
aspiration of the airline.
Every major issue, question or decision can be considered
through the prism of this commitment to providing world-class
Training is not a "one time affair." SIA understands that daily
customer contact can be draining, and that customer expectations
are on the rise.
To meet this challenge, four training centers within the
company (Cabin Crew, Flight Operations, Commercial and
Management Development) offer a wide range of inspiring and
demanding educational programs.
Whether in the classroom, on the job, or through full scale
simulations, SIA staff members are continually motivated to
upgrade and improve their performance.
Training is not just conducted during robust economic times.
Even during the downturns, SIA's investment in training goes on.
This gives the airline a two-fold advantage.
First, it allows SIA to surge ahead in service quality when
other carriers may be cutting back. Second, it demonstrates to
all staff that continuous learning and improvement are essential
principles for success, not just "nice to have" additions.
SIA staff are regularly appraised for performance, and
potential. High-flyers are identified early and given every
opportunity to learn and grow. Senior managers are uniquely well
developed with frequent rotations amongst top positions in the
This leads to a management team with great breadth and depth,
with a shared understanding of "the big picture," with a
commitment to do what's best for the customers and the business,
not just for one or another department.
SIA is a large organisation, with more than 28,000 staff located
in cities and subsidiaries throughout the world. People from
different cultures must work together to produce a seamless and
positive customer experience. In the pilot pool alone more than
twenty-five countries are represented!
To keep everyone on the same wavelength, SIA publishes a
variety of department newsletters and a monthly company-wide
magazine. Regular dialogue sessions between management and staff
keep communications flowing. A "Staff Ideas in Action" scheme
ensures that new suggestions are constantly put forward for
Semi-annual business meetings provide the forum for
evaluation of hard results in sales, markets, yields and
customer satisfaction levels.
Consistent External Communications
Whether the advertisement is about new destinations, new
airplanes, new cuisine on board or brand new seats and video
services, the legendary "SIA Girl" is always featured in the
advertising layouts and copy. Why? Because the bottom line for
SIA is not the plane, the seat, the video or the destination.
The bottom line is delivering quality service, and the "SIA
Girl" is the brand identity - the public personification of that
Of course everyone knows it takes the entire SIA team to deliver
excellent service, but showing a picture of a smiling engineer,
a competent pilot or a friendly telephone reservations agent
would not carry the same consistency in external communications.
The "SIA Girl" represents impeccable quality service. In the
airline's external communications, she is always there.
Connection with Customers
SIA makes a concerted effort to stay in touch with customers
through in-flight surveys, customer focus groups and rapid reply
to every compliment or complaint they receive. SIA consolidates
this input with other key figures to create a quarterly "Service
Performance Index" that is closely watched throughout the
Frequent flyers are especially well connected with special
messages, offers and publications sent regularly to members of
the priority passenger "PPS Club". Very frequent flyers achieve
an elite "Solitaire" status, with a wide range of valuable
privileges, including most convenient check-in, additional
baggage allowance, priority seating and waitlist and more.
The airline industry is intensely competitive with every carrier
seeking new ways to "get ahead of the pack." SIA introduces new
innovations, and tracks competitor's progress closely.
Even outside the industry, SIA keeps an open eye for new ways to
improve and grow. When hotels, banks, restaurants, retail
outlets and other service industries take a step forward in
their amenities, convenience or comfort, SIA watches closely to
see what can be adopted or adapted for the airline industry.
Improvement, Investment and Innovation
From the earliest days, SIA has built a reputation for taking
the lead and doing things differently than the others. This
includes free drinks and headsets, fax machines on board,
individual video screens and telephones in every seat, leading
edge gaming and in-flight entertainment, "book the cook" service
for special meals in First and Business classes, phone, fax and
e-mail check-in, innovative cargo facilities, the list goes on
This commitment to continuous improvement is coupled with a
cultural determination to try-it-out, make-it-work and
see-it-through. Not every innovation succeeds, and some are
eventually removed from service (the fax machines are long
gone), but SIA makes every possible effort to find the key to
success - or create it.
Rewards and Recognition
While excellent staff performance is rewarded with increased pay
and position, the most prestigious award of all is reserved for
extraordinary acts of truly superior service.
"The Deputy Chairman's Award" is given yearly to teams or
individuals who respond to unique customer situations with
exceptionally positive, innovative or selfless acts of service.
This award carries no financial benefit, but it is the most
revered accolade in the airline. Winners and their families are
flown to Singapore for a special dinner celebration, the story
of their unique efforts is published in the monthly "Outlook"
magazine, and their personal status as a "Deputy Chairman's
Award Winner" remains a badge of distinction for life.
Professionalism, Pride and Profits.
The result of all these efforts is a staff culture vigorously
committed to the airline, to customers and to continuous
Staff pride and sense of ownership are evident in the way
they protect the airline's reputation and participate in special
programs like the "aircraft adoption scheme."
And good profits are also achieved, but not as the end in
themselves. Rather, SIA's profits are "the applause we receive
for providing consistent quality and service to our customers."
Does all this mean that SIA is perfect? Of course not. Even SIA
cannot satisfy every customer, every time. Bags go astray,
telephone lines become congested, and meals at 39,000 feet are
not always deluxe. There will always be room for improvement.
With a track record of success, SIA must work doubly hard to
avoid becoming complacent. Managers must be open to change, not
arrogant, high-handed or defensive. Staff must be proud of the
airline yet remain eager for passenger suggestions,
recommendations and constructive critique.
The definition of a truly loyal airline customer is someone who
is pleased with the service, flies with the airline again and
again, recommends the airline to others, and takes the time and
effort to point out ways the airline can still improve.
I look forward to my flights on SIA, and I use the carrier two
or three times each month. My speeches and training programs are
peppered with positive stories from airline history and lore.
And my outgoing mail to SIA includes plenty of ideas and
suggestions to help the airline improve.
Singapore Airlines has earned my loyalty on the ground and in
It's a great way to fly.
About the Author
Copyright Ron Kaufman. Visit:
www.RonKaufman.com for more information..