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The importance of customers in any business can never be underestimated as far as the long-term and short-term sustainability and profitability is concerned. Indeed, the profitability and sustainability of any business is built around meeting the needs and wants of the customers as only then would they have the capacity to maintain a steady stream of customers. However, there are variations as to the needs of different customers in different industries and even in different times. This underlines the importance of continuous improvement of the services that the business entity provides so as to keep tabs with the needs of the customer and ensure its existence in the long-term. Underlining the importance of customers to any business entity is the statistics that show that more than 60% of the future revenue of any business entity would be obtained from the existing customers. In addition, scholars have insinuated that a 2% increase in the retention of customers would have an impact on the business entity’s profitability equivalent to a 10 percent reduction in the cost of operations (Skelton, & Anderson, 2008, pp, 54). On the same note, research shows that up to 96% of dissatisfied customers would be unlikely to lodge a complaint to the management of the business entity, but they have three times the likelihood to communicate and talk about their unpleasant experiences to other customers, potential or otherwise, than they would talk of a pleasant one. In cases where the complaints of a customer are met with an effective response to the service or product failure by the organization, there is a high likelihood that the loyalty of the customer would increase both in the short-term and the long-term. This is extremely crucial o a business entity especially considering that the entity would incur about 5 times as much resources (both finances and time) to attract a new customer than to retain an old or current one (Skelton, & Anderson, 2008, pp, 54). While a large number of customers believe that companies or business entities do not really value or care about their business, the attitudes of customers towards services have been changing in the recent times as people expect to gain more utility from every coin that they invest in a particular service. Consumers have stated that they gravitate to business entities that invest in the experience of the customers and even go an extra mile beyond the fundamental transaction to recognized loyalty, as well as ensure that the clients or customers obtain the most utility for every coin that they spend in the purchase of their services. In the past, enhancing the experience of the customer was primarily the concern of the manufacturing industry. However, the increasing growth in the service industry, coupled with increased competition has made it necessary that companies evolve and invest in the enhancement of the experience of the customers so as to enhance their sustainability and competitiveness in the business. In this regard, they have invested immensely in the business entities’ most fundamental resource; its employees. This is the case for Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Limited.
Operating under the business name DragonAir, Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Limited refers to an international airline that has its headquarters in Hong Kong, whereas its main hub is located at the Hong Kong International Airport. Started in July 1985, the airline currently operates more than 35 destinations situated in 13 countries and territories in Asia. It is made up of Airbus fleet with a total of 37 aircrafts. Dragonair had a relatively rough start especially considering that it was the first local competitor of the largest airline in Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific, in more than four decades. It is, therefore, not surprising that Cathay Pacific fought the company vigorously to the point of trying to block its applications for flight slots. In spite of the stiff competition and immense opposition, the company has experienced immense growth especially after the change of its ownership in 1990, which saw the Cathay Pacific relinquish some of its destinations to Dragonair. While its changing and improving fortunes may be attributed to the change in ownership, it is imperative that the impact of Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Limited’s strategies in managing its employees and enhancing customer experience is considered.
One of the key strategies that Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Limited has employed in enhancing their quality of service is empowering its staff to be independent thinkers and solve problems at the very basic level. It is unlikely that the customer would lodge a complaint on the loss of their luggage or any other unpleasant experience with the management or directors in the company. Scholars have noted that customers dislike being put through to the boss once they lodge a complaint with regard to the service that has been rendered to them (Hyman & Mason, 1995, pp 28). Indeed, they would prefer that the individual with whom they are dealing fixes the issue rather than refer it to their boss as that seems to be an effort to take them in circles. In this regard, Dragonair employees and staff are empowered to be problem solvers even in instances where the complaints of the customer fall beyond the scope of their duties. Scholars have noted that employee empowerment is a double-edged sword in enhancing the sustainability of the company (Basu, 2004, pp. 94). This is especially considering that it has a bearing on the job satisfaction that the employees have in the company, as well as the experience of the customers in the hands of the business entity (Hyman & Mason, 1995, pp 28). It is noteworthy that the staff would feel extremely frustrated in cases where they feel that they do not have the capacity to solve the complaints of the customer (Johansson, 2006, pp. 63). This would, essentially, result in an increased turnover, which affects the smooth flow of the business, as well as is sustainability in the long-term. In this case, Dragonair managers assured their staff that they would not get into trouble in cases where they put the business and the needs of the customers first in solving their complaints, irrespective of the scope of their jurisdiction. On the same note, frontline workers were granted a latitude for experimentation (Basu, 2004, pp. 94). This was in recognition of the fact that frontline workers do not only see breakdowns in the service but also chances for providing services to the customers in an entirely new way. In this regard, the barriers pertaining to hierarchies in the management are eliminated (Basu, 2004, pp. 94). Hierarchies come with assumptions pertaining to the roles, powers and responsibilities, which are often limiting as individuals are unwilling to cross the boundaries (Johansson, 2006, pp. 63). This would, undoubtedly, become unsettling and frustrating, which is why the company has undertaken diligent efforts to get rid of administrative work and decision process that often impede the efforts of the frontline workers in expeditiously serving their customers. For instance, junior workers have the capacity to question the actions of their seniors using the company’s “Plus One” protocol, thereby eliminating the conventional hierarchies. In cases where the junior workers, some of who may be more experienced in the field than their seniors, fear that an inappropriate decision has been made touching on the safety of the customers, they have the capacity to potentially override the initial decision, usually in consultations with specialists in the field. This has essentially improved the safety of the passengers and customers of the airline.
(See appendix A)
In addition, Dragonair has been striving to improve the quality of services that it offers to its customers through continuous training of its employees and staff. This is especially in recognition of the dynamic nature of the business and aviation world, as well as the variations that exist between the needs and expectations of the customers (Prayukvong, 2006, pp. 13). Needless to say, the quality of the services that a particular employee offers is only a product of the level of knowledge that he or she has on the subject (Prayukvong, 2006, pp. 13). This underlines the importance of continuous training, especially considering the changing demands of business and aviation world. Dragonair, alongside its current mother company, Cathay Pacific, has been offering pilot programs that are aimed at giving young individuals in Hong Kong an opportunity to be pilots. While this may be terned as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility, the company goes ahead to provide its cabin crew with rigorous training, as well as review programs. In addition, the flight crew is provided with training on simulators. The Dragonair Youth Aviation Academy is a key educational initiative created primarily because of the deficiency of information on the aviation industry (Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Limited, 2013). The program, which the company offers in conjunction with the HKACC (Hong Kong Air Cadet Corps), provides varied extraordinary experiences through which the participants would gain in-depth comprehension of the world of aviation, as well as further explore their different interests in their careers (Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Limited, 2013). Varied aspects are covered in the course including aviation security, meteorology, airport management, emergency readiness and in-flight catering. These courses provide the employees with an opportunity to attend training sessions, lectures, briefings, and tours that are hosted by key industry players, thereby allowing them to gain a solid foundation of knowledge about aviation, as well as increased comprehension of the operations of the industry. Scholars note that training offers an opportunity to expand the employee’s knowledge. The importance of training is underlined by the fact that every worker has certain weaknesses, some of which may impede their capacity to give the best services (Collins, 2008, pp. 49). Not only would training eliminate these weaknesses but also generate a knowledgeable staff.............
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