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AirAsia India adopts IHCL's customer service excellence best practice

Published on November 20, 2020

AirAsia has been globally ranked as the World’s Best Low-Cost Carrier consistently for 11 consecutive years by Skytrax. As with any airline, providing world class customer service excellence is the key differentiator and more so during the current pandemic, which unfolds unprecedented new situations and calls for improved agility, empathy and service.

AirAsia was interested in the strategic alignment of the learning & development (L&D) team to create an unparalleled customer experience. The company approached TBExG to facilitate a best practice session. Within the Tata ecosystem, Indian Hotels and the Taj Group of Hotels is known for their exemplary service and consistency.

On August 29, 2019, a seven-member multi-function delegation from AirAsia, led by Anjali Chatterjee, Head - People & Culture and Santosh Chand, Head, Customer Happiness, engaged in a half-day long EPIC session with IHCL’s HR team, led by Dr PV Murthy. In this session AirAsia’s had exhibited interest regarding the overall strategic alignment of L&D to create a delightful customer experience, which is IHCL’s hallmark. AirAsia’s delegation was particularly interested in knowing how the benefits of a robust L&D programme could be cascaded across functions, locations, and finally to the last employee.

An essential part of IHCL’s L&D focus is on creating ‘Certified Taj Departmental Trainers’, who conduct behavioural and functional training for their departments regularly. AirAsia decided to emulate the practice and developed a ‘Certified AirAsia Trainers (C.A.T)’ programme on similar lines, in June 2020. This involved identifying people from three core frontline functions — Cabin Crew, Ground Operations and Security — with good interpersonal skills and subject matter knowledge. Head of Department (HOD) recommendations and peer feedback was also considered while selecting the C.A.T programme.

The participants, later called C.A.Ts were trained through ‘train the trainer workshops’ to conduct online refresher sessions in small bytes of 60 minutes. All C.A.Ts underwent a stringent audit process and was each assigned a team of 40 members, for whom they would be conducting virtual fortnightly training.

As on date, AirAsia has 61 C.A.Ts (49 from Cabin Crew, Ground Operations and Security) and another 12 from the Engineering team which loved the concept and wished the same for their own team.

C.A.Ts have so far conducted 10 sessions each, covering approximately 1,500 members and the sessions have been very well received as evidenced by attendance and Voice of Customer (VOC) scores.

Engineering C.A.Ts are newly inducted and have so far conducted two fortnightly sessions.

Since the C.A.Ts from Cabin Crew, Ground Operations and Security primarily conduct sessions on customer centricity, how to communicate effectively with rapport during COVID, internal collaboration, moments of truth and links to net promoter score (NPS) among others, they are proud to share a measurable impact of the training conducted by the C.A.Ts.

As on Oct 30, 2020: The Cabin Crew NPS scores on attentiveness, courtesy and soft skills have improved by 266% while the Ground Operations and Security scores have improved by 53%.

Adoption of this practice has helped AirAsia develop a culture of continuous learning. As of today, every fortnight, 1,500 frontliners and approximately 400 engineers, connect on zoom, brainstorm and have fun sessions with their respective C.A.Ts on current issues they face at work.

There is a high degree of accountability and awareness within teams, as is evidenced in their NPS scores and the testimonials they receive from their guests!