Literature Review on Customer Service Management on Emirates

In the manufacturing sector customers are able to evaluate the business based on the actual tangible good and may not care much for the augmented services provided with it, except for maybe in the case of cars, however service providers need to manage their customer service in the best possible way as that is the bases they will judged on. Service sector’s need to consider employee behavior, service scape and quality service in order to create a positive image in the minds of the consumer.

An example of bad customer service is given through Apple due to their poor technical support, but however are able to get away with it due to their attractive nature. However Zappos. com and Bed Bath and Beyond are two companies that are directly opposite, one offers free shipping and 365x7x24 customer support while the other offers 100% satisfaction assured and free return shipping; and positioned right in between these two is Dell computers (Kandampully 2012). Customer Service Management

Managing customer service has become most essential now more than ever, customers today are well educated and are very careful about what they purchase. Companies dealing in similar areas or providing homogenous services can use customized customer service to differentiate their services. According to Nyanisa Manjavu (2004) “quality and customer service have become a way of life rather than, short-term projects that can begin and end at will. ” Some customer service management strategies mentioned are: * Motivate staff well for best attitudes from employees. Make part-time employees feel as part of the overall team. * Produce efficient and well organized systems to deal with variability of services. * Due to the importance of the customer service function, adequate resources need to be allocated to it. * Employee’s performance targets must be clear and realistic so as to encourage high standards of the service. (Manjavu 2004) Some of the ways service organisations can create value for its customers is through continuous improvement of service quality, encounters and satisfaction:

Service Quality Service quality refers to how the firm’s performance compares to the general expectations of the customer. The SERVQUAL model used in Srinivas Durvasula’s(2005) study is one of the most cited models proposed by Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry (1985), five dimensions have been recognized to describe service qualities: tangible, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy. Also a 22-item scale was developed to measure these five dimensions (Durvasula, Lysonski and Mehta 2005). Service Encounter

The two main definitions for service encounters used in Durvasula’s (2005) paper are first off “a period of time during which a consumer directly interacts with the service” and “it is the collectivity of service encounters that is evaluated by the customer and not a single interaction per se”; both are said to be broad definitions in nature. This has become very important when determining customer satisfaction and its impact on service quality, service encounters can occur as interpersonal interactions or even through a variety of technologies (Durvasula, Lysonski and Mehta 2005). Service Satisfaction and its Determinants

Companies spend a lot of resources on customer satisfaction due to the many benefits it provides such as customer loyalty, repurchase intentions, positive word of mouth and customer retention which can all in turn have a positive impact on profits. Two things discovered in this paper to have an impact on customer satisfaction are service quality and customer perceptions of service encounters [ (Durvasula, Lysonski and Mehta 2005) ]. Some of the important or key factors that can help shape the customer service function are: * Reliability, companies need to be able to meet or rather exceed customer expectations. Availability, companies need to make their customer service available at all times and through multiple channels. * Return calls, they need to make sure their customers have someone to talk to when needed. * Service failure recovery, this can determine how customers will spread information about the company. * Customer service as organization culture, every employee needs to be a customer service rep and should give their best when interacting with a customer. (Winston n. d. ) Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Another important concept to consider when talking about customer service is Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Despite large amounts of research carried out on this topic, there is no agreement on what CRM really is and how a CRM strategy can be developed. CRM first materialized in the IT community but has expanded to other areas of the service sector. Payne and Frow (2005) say that CRM definitions are mostly associated with technology but believe this is the reason behind the failure to properly define CRM.

After extensive deliberations of various definitions and perspectives, they developed this definition for the purpose of their study “CRM is a strategic approach that is concerned with creating improved shareholder value through the development of appropriate relationships with key customers and customer segments. CRM unites the potential of relationship marketing strategies and IT to create profitable, long-term relationships with customers and other key stakeholders. CRM provides enhanced opportunities to use data and information to both understand customers and co create value with them.

This requires a cross-functional integration of processes, people, operations, and marketing capabilities that is enabled through information, technology, and applications. ” [ (Payne and Frow 2005) ] Customer Experience According to Palmer (2010) “Increasing use of the vocabulary of “customer experience” by firms would appear to be a substitute for the language of “customer relationships. ” He also believes customer experience management may be the concept that can prevail over the challenges and restrictions of CRM.

Among many of the definitions mentioned is “The feeling of emotions and sensations as opposed to thinking” and “. . . involvement in what is happening rather than abstract reflection on an event” given by the American Heritage Dictionary which he describes as “more affective and process based”. Palmer shows a model on how the basis for marketing-based competitive advantage has evolved through time, from when the economy was more dominated by manufacturing companies to the time the service sector’s importance rose.

He feels developing on customer experiences can help service organizations differentiate their brand when customer relationships become too common or generic for similar companies. Different stimulus can have different impacts on different consumers, emotions can play an vital role when considering customer experience as people mostly tend to get emotional at things that are important to them (Pallmer 2010). The Airline Industry The airline sector is no exception from the growing interest in improving customer service management. Many airlines continue to provide consumers with the best service in many ways in order to succeed.

Some examples: * Southwest Airlines- (Ruppel 2012) Their mission statement now says: “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit”. * American Airlines- (American Airlines n. d. ) American Airlines and their regional partner American Eagle have submitted a customer service plan which has been put into effect on Feb 3. 2012. It says “We are dedicated to making every flight you take with us something special.

Your safety, comfort and convenience are our most important concerns” * Emirates Airlines- (The Emirates Group n. d. )The importance given to their customers can be seen through the many awards Emirates has received such as * Skytrax World Airline Awards – World’s Best Airline In-flight Entertainment. (2012) * Airline Passenger Experience Association – Emirates wins Best Overall Passenger Experience. (2011) * Frequent Traveler Awards – Skywards wins Best Customer Service, Middle East, Asia & Oceania. (2011) * Business Traveler Middle East Awards – Skywards, Best Frequent Flyer Program. (2009)

Yield Management (YM) Yield Management can be defined as “a method that helps to sell the correct product to the appropriate consumer, at the suitable moment and price. ” This can be used as a innovative pricing strategy and has been done so by the airline sector for a very long time [ (Martinez, Borja and Jimenez 2011) ]. Some of the characteristics of YM that make it efficient are one, relatively fixed capacity as capacity is not flexible; seats on a plane cannot be added or removed. Two, ability to segment its market in to different customer categories, third is the perishable inventory as aircrafts seats cannot be stored.

Forth is the fact that all tickets are sold at a different time so tradeoffs occur when deciding to accept an offer between an early reservation with low price or a last minute customer who may pay higher. In Fredric Voneche’s (2005) study the problems of YM have been broken down into overbooking, discount allocation and traffic management. Overbooking means to sell more seats on an aircraft than existing as passengers that don’t show up or cancel can leave up to 15% of the plane empty. However all passengers do not always pay the same price on a flight and so the concept discount allocation needs to be used which is the “the process of etermining the number of discount fares to offer on a flight. ” Finally traffic management needs to be considered due to the adaption of the hub-and-apoke concept after deregulation. Overbooking and discount allocations would be enough to maximize revenue if point to point routes existed with no connecting flights [ (Voneche 2005) ]. YM was introduced to Emirates in 1990 by its senior vice president of YM Ramesh Venkat who is responsible for Flight Management, Group Desk, Revenue Integrity, Revenue Management Science and Research.

He is an Electrical Engineer from Indian Institute of Technology (1978) and MBA from the University of Bradford (2002) and has pioneered sales-focused revenue management at the company [ (Venkat 2007) ]. Emirates Airlines Emirates is known to be one of the best airlines in the emirates, winning many awards. They offer a variety of amazing augmented services to customers to support their core service which is air transport. First to look at the actual in-fight services, Emirates offers three classes in their flights first, business and economy.

First and business class of course are offered the very best treatment due to the higher prices they pay; they enjoy services such as private suites, flat bed seats, regionally inspired food along with wines and champagne, shower spa’s, onboard lounges, their world renowned in-flight entertainment system which consists of information, communication and entertainment (ice) which has won awards six years in a row and extended services before taking off and after landing such as relaxing at the exclusive Emirates lounge or enjoying chauffeur driven services.

However the economy class is also provided with many great services such as seatback monitors with up to 1,400 channels of news and entertainment programming along with SMS, telephone and email service as on air wifi is available on all three classes, they are also offered award-winning meals created by internationally renowned chefs and provide utmost care and attention to young flyers. Emirates believes in providing “comfort, convenience, and exceptional service are part of the Emirates experience wherever your travels take you. Emirates flies to 120 destinations worldwide and passengers are even able to download their timetables through the website. Emirates also offers tour and holiday packages to customers through Emirates Holidays, Arabian Adventures and have special offers at their own Emirates Wolgan Valley resort and spa in Australia. The organisation allows customers to receive special fares and special offers and the latest news from Emirates, direct to their inbox.

Emirates also has a special offer for all its loyal customers called the Skywards Miles, this allows to collect miles on your purchases and then pay for booking or upgrading a flight ticket using these miles; small to medium sized businesses can enjoy these rewards as well called the business rewards [ (Emirates 2012) ]. One main benefit all Emirates Airline passengers, no matter of what nature, can enjoy in the UAE is the entire terminal 3 that was specially built just for Emirates’ customers; it is capable to hold up to 43 million passengers a year when fully operational.

The president of Emirates Airlines, Tim Clark, says “The new Emirates Terminal 3 is a testament to our corporate values that will see our passengers enjoy ease of travel, home comforts and refined luxuries both in the air and on the ground – helping us to deliver on our promise and fulfill customer expectations from the Emirates brand” (Anonymous 2008). Self-Service Technologies Self-service technology (SST) has been defined as “technological interfaces allowing customers to produce services independent of involvement of direct service employee” and can be an important tool in customer service management.

Although first started in the manufacturing industry, it slowly moved to the service sector and was introduced to the airline industry in the mid 1990’s but has come a long way since then. The different types of SST’s at airports could include information kiosks, ticketing kiosks, CUSS kiosks, retail kiosks, internet bookings and through the use of smart phones or mobile devices. SST is much more preferred to traditional check in systems by the company and customers due to greater efficiency, convenience, shorter wait times, reduced labor cost and variability in the human service encounter (Drennen 2011).

Emirates has invested a great deal in SST’s to ensure their customers the best service. Emirates has a very appealing and user friendly website for its customers to use and anyone can access a range of Emirates’ services through this. Passengers can not only book their tickets online but check in as well and is available for all three classes. The website also allows passengers to book hotels, rent cars and book tour n holiday destinations for their trip. Emirates’ check in is most convenient due to the self check in machines at the terminal (Emirates 2012) and new check in machines at some metro stations (Badam 2011).

Strengths and Limitations Despite knowing of all the amazing and extensive services offered by Emirates, there are some mixed feelings among customers (Full reviews in Appendix 1). Some of the many services that have been praised are the amazing entertainment system (ICE), the comfortable seats, lounges, the bar in the A380, quick check in, seat upgrades, chauffeur service and clean cabins. However there definitely are some complaints and the most common are about inattentive, uncivil and “almost robotic” like crew members and tasteless and cold food.

Even though customers have said positive things about these aspects some believe they were just terrible. Customer Service Program An organization’s ultimate goal is make customers happy, and developing a formal plan to effectively serve customers will encourage this. Mostly small companies have in formal plans however bigger companies are encouraged to have formal plans with customer service policies and procedures, ways to measure satisfaction and loyalty. When an organization is trying to implement a customer service program there are some key elements that need to be considered.

First is to assess your company’s customer focus, traditionally companies would hire one or two people to take care of the customer service problems however smarter business owners know that this is a task for the whole organization and each employee needs to understand that each individual persons role will affect how the customer sees the company. Next is to asses customer needs, organization’s need to thoroughly analyze customer satisfaction; this can be done through analyzing customer complaints or reviewing average wait times.

Establishing formal customer service policies is another element, this may consist of which tasks will be handled by whom or how an employee should behave in a certain situation. Finally the organization needs to educate the staff, time need to be set out for employees to be trained and nurtured into truly service-oriented employees (Inc. 2009). References: American Airlines. http://www. aa. com/i18n/customerService/customerCommitment/customerServicePlan. jsp (accessed November 3, 2012). Badam, Ramola Talwar. “Emirates Airline puts check-in kiosks in Metro stations. ” The National.

August 3, 2011. http://www. thenational. ae/news/uae-news/transport/emirates-airline-puts-check-in-kiosks-in-metro-stations (accessed November 5, 2012). Drennen, Hannah, “Self Service Technology in Airports And the Customer Experience” (2011). UNLV Theses/Dissertations/Professional Papers/Capstones. Paper 1053. Durvasula, Srinivas, Steven Lysonski, and Subhash C. Mehta. “Service Encounters: The Missing Link Between Service Quality and Satisfaction. ” Journal of Applied Business Research, 2005: 16-18. Emirates. 2012. http://www. emirates. com/ae/english/ (accessed November 4, 2012).

Inc. , Virtual Advisor. Creating an Effective Customer Service Plan. 2009. http://www. va-interactive. com/inbusiness/editorial/sales/ibt/customer. html#top (accessed November 13, 2012). Kandampully, Jay. Service Management: The New Paradigm in Retailing. New York: Springer Science + Business Media, LLC, 2012. Manjavu, Nyanisa. “AN ANALYSIS OF CUSTOMER SERVICE. ” Journal of Srevice Marketing, 2004: 1,6-7. Martinez, Mario, Miguel Borja, and Juan Jimenez. “Yield Management as a Pricing Mechanism. ” The Review of Business Information Systems, 2011: 51-59. Pallmer, Adrian. Customer experience management: a critical review of an emerging idea. ” Journal of Services Marketing, 2010: 196-208. Payne, Adrian, and Pennie Frow. “A Strategic Framework for Customer Relationship Management. ” Journal of Marketing, 2005: 167-176. Ruppel, Jim. Customer Service Commitment. Dallas, 2012. Skytrax. http://www. airlinequality. com/Forum/emrts. htm (accessed November 13, 2012). The Emirates Group. http://www. theemiratesgroup. com/english/our-company/awards-accolades. aspx (accessed November 3, 2012). Venkat, Ramesh. Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management. 007. http://www. palgrave-journals. com/rpm/journal/v6/n4/abs/5160104a. html (accessed November 3, 2012). Voneche, Fredric. “Yield Management in the Airline Industry. ” Journal of services Marketing , 2005: 1-6. Winston, Beth. eHow. http://www. ehow. com/list_6697064_key-factors-customer-service. html (accessed November 13, 2012). Appendix Appendix 1 – Customer Reviews [ (Skytrax n. d. ) ] * E. Cherfane Dubai-Beirut-Dubai in business class. Very impressive as the crew were attentive, I was escorted to my seat and informed of the seat facility and the service.

Entertainment system is excellent with plenty of choices. Will be flying them again this month to Bangkok. * Janet Farnaby On arrival at Melbourne airport we found our flight to London Heathrow via Singapore had been cancelled. Emirates staff could not have been more helpful. We were re-routed via Sydney/Dubai to Heathrow with an overnight stay at the Sheraton with meals and transfers provided. Upgraded to Business Class and received excellent meals. Dubai to London was back to economy, but we were given the seats next to the exit and again felt cared for.

A great experience with excellent service both on the ground and in the air. A great selection of in-flight entertainment made long flights more agreeable. * Per Norlander We had a return flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong and the BKK-HKG flight was the best flight. Very good staff, attentive service, good recommendation of wine with the food. The bar at the back of the A380 was a really great experience. Again very nice and service minded staff. * S. Brent Flew SYD to Dubai, Dubai to Casablanca, return. Unimpressed with service, staff was barely civil, food was ordinary.

My friend even had to take her own meal tray back to the galley! * S. Anand AMS-DBX-MAA-DBX-AMS. Upgraded to business class on DBX-MAA-DBX segments. Service on board all flights substandard. It appears that being warm and welcoming is an effort for cabin crew. Food on all segments of poor quality (even business class segments). Food portions are small on the long haul AMS-DBX-AMS segment. The seats are comfortable be it business or economy. Chose Emirates because of low ticket price and decent reputation for service. However I would rather pay more money and fly someone else.

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