Today, the airline industry has become very diverse and competitive. For instance, some airlines are known for its high quality service excellence where else some airlines are still struggling themselves to reach this point. In fact, Feng-I Ling, Kuang Lin and Jin-Long Lu (2005) stated that the service quality of airlines is an important issue, not only for airline managers; it is also a key factor in building long-term brand recognition. Likewise, one of the prominent airlines of the world known for its high service excellence with outstanding brand recognition is “Singapore Airlines”.
The airlines had so far been quite successful in outweighing its competitors by implementing product differentiation through service quality and innovation. According to Porter (1980) Day and Wensley (1988), a company can differentiate itself from competitors by bundling competitive advantages. Hence, they can gain competitive advantage by offering consumers lower prices than competitors for similar products or by providing more benefits that justify higher prices.
Similarly, Singapore airlines had positioned itself as a premium carrier with high levels of innovation and excellent level of service and products with value for money unlike its competitors.
Nonetheless, to ensure smooth running of operation and to offer quality service, the airline recruited all its employees especially the pilots and cabin crews from the global labor market. Hence, the airline also has cabin crews who have the capability of speaking major Asian Languages such as Malay, Indonesian, Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean which helps to eliminate the issue of language barriers especially among passengers speaking these languages.
Nonetheless, all of them are well trained in areas such as communication, safety and security, product knowledge as well as customer service and interpersonal skills. Based on a study by Armstrong (2000) it was mentioned that training has a direct relationship with the employees’ performance where by it is a formal & systematic modification of behavior through learning which occurs as a result of education, instruction, development & planned experience. Nonetheless, passenger reviews also showed that the in flight crews were very attentive, extremely well-trained, very warm and efficient.
Through its well trained employees, the airline is able to offer quality service to every single passenger. Feng-I Ling , Kuang Lin and Jin-Long Lu (2005) found through their study that quality has become a significant concern for those in the service industry, specifically the airline industry. Although people primarily use airplanes to satisfy their need to go from one place to another, procedures from ticketing, checking, boarding and traveling to baggage handling, etc. can also deeply influence travelers’ attitudes to the services provided by airlines and their satisfaction with those services.
Apart from that, Gronroos (2000) argued that passengers may also judge or evaluate airline service quality through a comparison between their experiences and expectations, over a number of quality attributes. Likewise, many passengers gave positive reviews about the airline based on their experience with the airline’s products and the services. For instance, they stated that the check in procedure at the airport was very fast and efficient with plenty of check in counters. Nonetheless, passengers were also assisted immediately if any passengers press the call button during the flight.
Thus, all its passengers were treated with excellent food regardless of the class and were offered with cocktails, fine wines, and in-flight movies at no extra charge. Even the airline ground staff offers outstanding customer service by accompanying the passenger to the air bridge and providing proper direction at the airport. Furthermore, the aircrafts currently used by the airline is also very young with an average fleet age of 5 years and 4 months with advanced security and safety features.
Kelemen (2002) found that improved security has become a vital factor in efforts to revive the fortunes of the air transport industry . Hence; Singapore airlines have been quite successful in maintaining its safety and security until now. With this achievement and its well trained pilots, the airline so far had never reported any crashes or encountered any issues regarding its security and safety measures. Moreover, with its new aircraft models, the use of information technology was considered as an essential feature of the airline’s strategy both in enhancing customer service as well as increasing efficiency.
Zineldin (2000) revealed through his study that there is strong evidence that the use of technology can assist firms to deliver high-quality cost-effective service. However, Erffmeyer and Johnson (2001) argued that to produce a quality service, this technology must be appropriate to the needs of the service organization when designing, producing, supporting and managing the service-delivery process. Hence, Singapore airlines have a service development department to testify every single service innovation implemented to ensure whether it is been well supported by the appropriate procedures in order to eliminate any errors.
Through its structured management system, the airline showed an outstanding performance by successfully implementing new technological features on its aircrafts as well as services. Likewise, it has advanced its website allowing customers to purchase their air fares with their meal preference, do self check in, manage their frequent flyer account and even get information on promotions. Nevertheless, even the passenger reviews stated that the Economy Class cabins were refurbished giving it a new contemporary look while the business class offered seats with complete privacy allowing the seats to be converted in to a superb flat bed.
Thus, enhancements were also made to the Kris World in flight entertainment system, with improved Audio- Video on Demand features and a more user friendly graphical interface making it as one of the best airline entertainment system in the world. Hence, to ensure and maintain its position as a first class service airline, Singapore airlines broadened its benchmarking not just against its main competitors, but also against the best-in-class service companies. . Bad Service Company – Garuda Indonesia
Employee motivation is one of the main aspects which determine a company success in the future. According to Nel et al (2001), a motivated person has the awareness of specific goals that must be achieved in specific ways; therefore he/she directs its effort to achieve such goals. Likewise, a company needs to provide proper financial and non financial benefits, proper training and appreciate and recognition to increase employee motivation and job satisfaction to make the company either successful or unsuccessful in a business prospective.
A research conducted by Rehman, Zaheer and Sufwan (2007) also concluded that pay, promotion and training had positive and significant impact on job satisfaction. Nonetheless, when employees are highly motivated with proper human resources management, it enhances the employees desire to perform well in their job thus offering outstanding customer service. Yet, Garuda Indonesia Airlines, been the largest national airline of Indonesia has been facing many problems unlike other leading airlines such as Singapore and Malaysian airlines.
Hence, this was mainly due to poor Human Resources Management such as lack of proper training and poor recruitment procedure. In fact, Beech and Chadwick (2006) stated that staff recruitment and selection is fundamental to effective organizational functioning – inappropriate selection decisions impact negatively, reducing effectiveness and performance. In Garuda Indonesia, the inappropriate training and recruitment of its pilots is believed to be one of the main reasons for the airline to have a record of numerous plane crashes and poor adherence to safety regulations.
Farah (n. d) indicated through his research findings on the past two decades in aviation that over 70 percent of aircraft accidents and incidents are directly linked to human error. Moreover, Air Line Pilots Association (2009) stated that the best and most important safety feature on any airplane is a well-trained, highly motivated and professional pilot . Lack of qualified and in experienced pilots of Garuda airline had resulted in nine fatal accidents been reported in three decades.
The lack of adequate training had also resulted in both high level of customer dissatisfaction as well damages to the airline affecting its reputation and brand image. Graham and Bennett (1998) discussed that training is an essential factor in enhancing employee’s performance level. Thus, it was found that successful training can achieve the requisite performance standards identified by an organization. Yet, based on customer reviews, it was found that the airline employees lack proper training.
In fact, passenger reviewed that the Cabin crews of Garuda were not familiar with the in flight products and services and had poor product knowledge while assisting and selling the products to the passengers. Nonetheless, the ground staffs were neither helpful nor knowledgeable and the check in service was extremely slow and inefficient despite of the available number of check in counters. Apart from lack of motivational factors, the airline also seems to encounter problems due to its old and outdated aircrafts. With its total of 77 flights, the average fleet age seems to be 9. which are quite higher compared to others airlines. According to the Sesar press release (2010) it was mentioned that together with a constant increase in air traffic over the last decades and a division of airspace following national borders, the use of outdated technology has far-reaching consequences for passengers, airlines and the environment. Hence, the outdated aircrafts and the continuous plane crashes of Garuda Airlines resulted in makes many of its passengers shifting to other airlines due to been concerned about their safety and security.
Some airlines such as Cathey Pacific, Singapore Airlines had so far adapted highly technological system of internet booking and passenger check in service to enable more passengers to use the airlines and to offer convenience for them while purchasing their air tickets. However, Stroh et al (2009) stated that many airlines are still working with reservations, inventory, and departure control systems that were designed during the 1960s and ’70s.
Hence, it also mentioned that in addition to incurring operational costs that were rising as much as 10 percent per year, the outdated legacy systems were also not meeting the airline’s present-day needs or their future aspirations. Likewise, Garuda Airlines is still fighting to increase their price with their ‘old fashioned’ Global Distribution System, which require the personal travel assistant to do that which as a result increases the chance for the airline’s operating cost to increase due to more manpower been used on the operations.
Moreover, the flights also had outdated technology products creating dissatisfaction and inconvenience among its passengers. Likewise, many passenger complaints showed that the foot rest was very small and inconvenient unlike airlines such as Singapore airlines which have a huge and quality foot rest with comfortable seating room. In fact, some stated that the airline’s seat pitch was only around 31? to 32? and the seat was not equipped with hi-tech features. Baines (1998) stated that technology basically gives the industry a chance to improve the quality of the service it offers.
In fact, Cook (2002) mentioned that organizations are therefore increasingly turning to a combination of technology and quality management systems (QMS) to assess and satisfy customers’ expectations. Yet, Garuda Airlines seems to be way behind other leading airlines in terms of technology and this as a result not only increase the percentage of dissatisfied customers but it also makes it impossible for the airline to offer quality service and products to its passengers. Likewise, passenger reviews revealed that there was no individual TV monitors for the passengers unlike most other high end airlines.
Instead, passengers only share common TV which has a small tiny screen with poor resolution. Moreover, in flight entertainment system has no choices for movies and passengers can see only the movie shown on the main screen during the entire journey. Lastly, it was also found that Garuda Airline’s overall delivery of service was really low. Based on a research by Parasuraman, Zeithaml & Berry (1991) argued that delivering high quality in the service industry has been recognized as the most effective means of ensuring that a company’s offerings are uniquely positioned in a market filled with “lookalike” competitive offerings.
Nonetheless, Goodman (1989) also asserted that businesses should be concerned with service quality issue because problems with service quality can make customer loyalty decline by 20%. Looking at the some of the areas of the airline, it was found through the passenger reviews that there were no airline staffs at the lounge to assist the passengers. For instance, this can make it really confusing especially for the first time travelers while trying to find direction since the airport is n international airport with busy flight schedules and a huge number of passengers. Conclusion In general, Garuda Indonesia needs to advance themselves in the field of innovation and technology and restructure its current safety and security measures to position it same as reputable airline in the world. Nonetheless, they currently needs to conduct frequent training session for their staffs especially in service quality, safety and security measures in order to come up to the same level as the leading airlines such as Singapore Airlines
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