For the past seven years, one airport has consistently claimed the title of “World’s Best Airport” by UK-based international air transport agency, Skytrax. Changi Airport, operated in Singapore serves as one of Southeast Asia’s largest transit hubs and one of the busiest in the world, serving over 50 million visitors each year. The honor is not easily earned, and yet Changi Airport seems to lead its competition in securing the top prize by focusing on one key strategy: the customer’s experience.
Most would agree that their experience at airports throughout the world is hardly an enjoyable one; in fact, it can be extremely chaotic and stressful – ultimately impacting the overall travel experience. According to a study done by Priority Pass, the most stressful aspects of travel for people involve the airport – not the experience of flying itself. From security and baggage claim to delays and boarding, these represent some of the top reasons people worry or stress when using air travel.
That’s exactly what Changi Airport seeks to alleviate. Foo Sek Min, Executive V.P. of Airport Management for Changi Airport spoke to this very point when he said, “Airports are typically stressful places. Our goal is to remove stress. And it doesn’t just happen with people. It must envelop the entire culture.”
Walking through the airport reveals one prong of their multi-faceted approach to customer experience: atmosphere. Consider their massive Harry Potter-themed installation that impressed visitors throughout the holidays in 2018, or the recently constructed indoor rainforest that includes a 130-foot waterfall, trees to climb, a hotel to seek refuge in, and the highest quality eateries and merchants.
But, their willingness to invest in an appealing and engaging atmosphere is only a portion of what makes the airport so successful. At its foundation is a culture centered around providing the highest level of service to every individual. To accomplish this successfully, they have worked with a consulting firm that focuses on just that: creating a value to every customer that then translates into greater profitability for the company or entity. The company, Uplifting Service, is a global leader in helping companies build successful service cultures. It’s no coincidence that another client of Uplifting, Singapore Airlines, is consistently ranked as the top airline in the world.
Profitability Requires Happy Customers
It’s no secret that in order to be successful as a company, those who you rely on to purchase your product or service must be happy. Often, the overall satisfaction of the customer not only involves the actual product, but the experience in procuring it. At THP, our focus on the customer has always been top of mind – in fact, it’s our company’s first core value. These core values are ingrained in our culture and each employee understands the importance of adhering to them.
For us, customer satisfaction has meant taking an initiative to listen to our customers, solicit feedback and meet the demands of customers, partners, suppliers and related parties in order to achieve everyone’s mutual goals and expectations. In addition, we have always been committed to providing what our customers want through innovative products that not only meet but exceed expectations. Our desire has always been to execute on these priorities while maintaining the highest level of respect and dedication toward all our customers.
This level of service is not achieved without dedicated effort. It’s why we have integrated a management program built around THP’s guiding principles. Accountability is a necessary component of maintaining the highest level of service. Once our managers have completed the management program, they are evaluated at thirty- and ninety-day intervals. At those checkpoints, commitment to the core values – including focus on customer satisfaction – assessed.
Focusing on the customer has always been important to my father – and as an extension THP. He firmly believed building a leadership team with integrity that was customer-focused could be instilled and taught. That’s a belief that the most successful companies share – true leadership and an ability to serve the customer effectively is something to not only be taught, but something that is re-emphasized continually.
In a customer case study for Uplifting Service, Sim Kay Wee, former Senior V.P. of Cabin Crew for Singapore Airlines shared this astute piece of advice, “If you are in the lead and want to stay there, 100 percent is not enough. You need every member of the team to keep stepping up even higher.”
There is Always Something that Can Be Improved
Continuing the thought from Sim Kay Wee of Singapore Airlines, achieving the highest level of service and quality requires all team members to seek continual improvement. In our companies, there are always areas where we can improve the customer experience, even if it has worked previously. Consider the following as you evaluate how your company enhance customer satisfaction:
- Identify all touchpoints. Take the time to walk through each of the customer’s touchpoints with your company. What are they currently experiencing? Who are they interacting with? What works about the current process and what could improve? Each interaction with your customer is an opportunity to enhance the customer’s experience or detract from it.
- Look at your company’s willingness to invest. Some of the initiatives and improvements you may want to implement will require financial commitment. Do you currently have a budget for these kinds of projects? If not, is there a willingness across leadership to make customer satisfaction a priority?
- Take inventory of corporate training. Establishing desired characteristics of your corporate culture requires an investment of time and emphasis from leadership to mid-management and all employees. What training opportunities do you have in place that help employees develop leadership- and service-related skills?
- Understand how “the best” do it. The best way to understand industry best-practices and how to improve beyond those is to first understand what those best practices are and who exemplifies those skills, regardless of what the industry is. Take notes from the top companies in an array of industries in countries throughout the world.
In the end, our customers are what keep us in business. Focusing on strategies that increase customer satisfaction yields increased profitability for the companies that prioritize these initiatives.