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Singapore Airlines: Flying High With Customer Loyalty

Ever since its first flight took off from Kallang Airport, Singapore on 1 May 1947, Singapore Airlines (Malayan Airways Limited Airspeed Consul) has soared great heights in the airline industry for its stellar performance. It started as a joint venture between the Singapore and the Malaysian governments, to serve the South East Asian region. Singapore Airlines (SIA) was born in 1972, after Malaysian Airlines ceased operations.

Innovation and quality service has propelled the growth of Singapore Airlines in the hugely populated airline industry. It has evolved to be one of the most respected travel brands across the world. With the youngest fleet in the air and a network spanning five continents, SIA is definitely a name to reckon with.

SIA’s Culture of Service Excellence

SIA has continued to provide excellent service to customers, investors, partners, and staff. From the very beginning, SIA had envisioned a completely branded product or service. Throughout its history, it has relied on technology, innovation, genuine quality and excellent customer service. At the same time, it has remained true to its brand attributes. It places the passengers’ needs first, serving above and beyond the ordinary. Most importantly, SIA recognizes the fact that innovation has a short life span. Hence, it continues to invest heavily in R&D to remain distinct.

SIA – An Industry Trend Setter

The demure “Singapore Girl” has remained a symbol of quality customer care and service. SIA has a reputation of many “firsts” and it promises a future, of more “firsts” too. Over the years, SIA has pioneered a number of customer service initiatives, few of which are listed below:

  • Krisworld in-flight entertainment (IFE) system for all classes
  • Internet and phone check-in for all classes
  • Full-size ‘space-bed’
  • Free headsets
  • Gourmet cuisine, which includes fine wines
  • Global inflight e-mail system to all passengers
  • ‘Alert Service’ SMS to inform customers of flight arrivals and delays
  • 'Book the Cook’ service where specific dishes may be selected in advance from a more extensive menu

It was the launch customer of the Airbus A380 Superjumbo too.

Flying High in Turbulent Times

The past five years have been a time of drastic changes in the airline industry. Wide expansion of low-cost carriers, stiff competition across major routes, and major shakeouts has resulted in a significant impact on consumer behavior. According to the International Transport Association (IATA), 2009 witnessed the largest decline in air passenger traffic in the post-war era. However, a greater decrease in passenger traffic (when compared to other international airlines) did not result in a dent in SIA’s growth plans. An understanding of buyer behavior, which aids value creation, has led SIA to fly high in turbulent times too. 

SIA has been able to manage its brand through every interaction and experience. One distinct aspect of its experiential brand strategy has been the in-flight hospitality and warmth. In fact, Mr Yap Kim Wah, SIA’s Senior VP (Product and Service) has stated that “We have a high reputation for service and that means that when someone flies with us they come with high expectations. But still we want them to come away saying ‘Wow! That was something out of the ordinary’.”

The ‘Product Innovation Department’ at SIA constantly tracks trends, and uses implications to apply them for future better service. For example, when changing food habits of passengers (increasingly health conscious travelers) was noticed, SIA went ahead and made food, which was lighter and more nutritious. With people moving across continents more than ever before, improvement and innovation are the only qualities, which have kept SIA flying high. Moreover, this has helped reinforce the belief that the companies, which focus on their customers rather than their products, can successfully maintain customer loyalty.

Apart from being one of the most profitable airlines in the world, SIA is the world’s youngest fleet in the air. It has been routinely voted as the ‘best airline’, ‘best business class’, ‘best in-flight food’, and ‘Asia’s most admired company’, and many more such awards. It was ranked 33rd in Fortune's World’s Most Admired Companies rankings in 2009 too.

About SIA’s Customer Loyalty Programs:

  • KrisFlyer: With a KrisFlyer membership, you can earn miles for travel to your favorite destinations. You can redeem your KrisFlyer miles and upgrade to higher class of travel on your next travel through Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and some Star Alliance airlines.
  • PPS Club: As a PPS Club member, you are guaranteed service and personalized attention. You are also entitled to a host of privileges that will make your entire travel experience more comfortable, more convenient, and more satisfying. Some of the privileges include, Priority Reservation Waitlist, Increased Check-in Baggage Allowance, and Priority Baggage Handling.
  • Members may also have access to lounges operated by a number of the airline's partners and may use the lounges at San Francisco, London, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Sydney, and few other airports.

Conclusion

SIA’s choice of a long-term, customer-driven approach has helped it retain its customers, who act as promoters too. And most of them are prepared to pay the premium price to fly SIA. With its continued dual focus on customer experience through service excellence and innovation, as it continues to strive for efficiency, SIA is set to achieve newer heights in customer loyalty.

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