Lessons from the Singapore GirlBY JONAS WULFF MOLLER
As my profession revolves around luxury brand strategies, I have often asked myself and my friends “what is the best customer service you have ever experienced?”
I can list many single fantastic customer experiences such as when I lost my American Express in Spain and it was replaced within 15 hours (including cash in local currency), or when a staff member at Six Sense turned off the internet-access in my villa because “one shouldn’t be working on one’s birthday”.
I attribute some of these fantastic customer experiences to amazing individual performance, rather than the outcome of a holistic customer experience strategy.
The most consistent customer service I have experienced is our very own Singapore Airlines. Singapore Airlines has, from day one, developed a supreme customer experience strategy unparalleled in the airline industry which has furthermore surpassed most entities in the service and luxury industry.
So, how do they do it? I conceived a framework based on my observations, which lead to this illustration:
-Embedding the Singapore Girl at all touchpoints
In all aspects of communication, the Singapore Girl is the icon of great service. She is visible in all external communication, visible in airports and in in-flight services.
Singapore Airlines is consistent in delivering customer service by performing frequent quantitative research surveys by means of e.g. focus group interviews, structured client feedback and by measuring all touchpoints with a holistic internal KPI (Key Performance Indicator) called Service Performance Index.
Singapore Airlines constantly drives innovation, leading the airline to be first in the market to offer successful services such as free onboard drinks, free headset and individual in-flight monitors – also to economy class passengers. Singapore Airlines is also “best in class” in regards to VIP and loyalty programs like Priority Passenger Service (PPS) and top tiered Solitaire PPS status, which allows you to check in at a separate first class terminal.
Singapore Airlines focuses on delivering superior customer experiences and the goal is always clear among all staff. Excellent customer service is communicated as the fundamental aspiration at all levels.
All significant decisions and questions are approached with the obligation of delivering sublime service. Communication is streamlined via multiple channels such as monthly magazines, intranet and internal direct messenger system, which adds to achieving the common goal.
Education of staff is not only limited to new staff in Singapore Airlines. Continuous training of staff throughout the employment period is prioritized. Training and motivation is needed when recognizing the tiresome triviality of the staff’s daily cords in an industry where customer expectations continue to rise.
Singapore Airlines therefore offers 4 different divisions of after- employment training – all focusing fully on customer satisfaction. Training is not just a “luxury” in good times when we can afford it, but is in fact a necessity to perform during recession.
This gives Singapore Airlines a competitive advantage during downtimes where competitors most often deprioritize training and service functions. Education is an inherent part of Singapore Airlines’ DNA.
-Customer centric culture
Staff members are given increased salaries for above-average performance on service parameters. Every year Singapore Airlines gives a Customer Service Award to a team or individuals for performing a single or a series of unique and outstanding positive service interactions with clients. The award is personally handed over by the CEO. These are all elements which create a deliberate customer centric culture.
I am not the first person to use Singapore Airlines as an example of great holistic customer experience strategy, but now, more than ever, emphasis on customer experience strategies is a necessity.
Competition in our industries tightens, our business models become uniform, we read the same management books and our products originate from the same factories with the same cost model and supply chain as our competitors. Where is our competitive advantage going to come from?
My lesson learned from the “Singapore Girl” is that positive customer experience does not happen by accident. It is an intentionally designed customer experience and tightly integrated organizational effort. The reward is my emotional attachment and continued retention to the Singapore Girl - You’re
(still) A Great Way To Fly.
Jonas Wulff Moller is Director | Group Partner of MJ Group of Companies, and Managing Director of Georg Jensen in South East Asia.