A lot of people have flown on Singapore Airlines, and even people who haven’t flown on Singapore Airlines know that particular airline to be the gold standard in customer service. The Strategic winning game of the airlines is taught in B Schools all over the world as case studies
And so it’s important for us to understand what they’ve managed to do really, really well. There are two ways that you can compete in the airline industry. One is on price and the other is on service. Most airlines compete on price, and they tell passengers that they can get the best deal by flying on that particular airline.
They lock in people through their frequent-flyer programs, and frequent flyers are used to getting the best deal on their particular airlines. That’s part of the contract.
Singapore Airlines does things differently. They seldom discount, so they’re not in the price game. And the services they offer are way above what everybody else offers. For them, for Singapore Airlines, competing on service is a way of differentiating away from being commoditized. Here is a video by SA.
Let me explain that with an example. Singapore Airlines makes a distinction between software and hardware. Hardware is the airplane; hardware is the electronic equipment that they use, the audio/visual equipment. Hardware includes the reclining seats that they have in first class and in business class, all of those sorts of things.
Software is the functional skill that flight attendants have in delivering the perfect cup of coffee at 30,000 feet. Making contact with passengers, making them feel relaxed — those are all soft skills.
Now when you think about what’s easy to compete on, it’s hardware. If you’re building an airline, a competitive airline, you buy the newest planes, you get the newest multimedia equipment, the newest audio/visual equipment, and you get the best seats.
But competing on the soft skills is very, very difficult. And this is what Singapore Airlines has managed to do over decades, is compete on the software, or the soft skills.. Download the Harvard Case Study http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/504025-PDF-ENG