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IHCL shares its customer service excellence practices with AirAsia in an EPIC Best Practice session

Published on October 04, 2019

To discover the secret recipe of IHCL’s unrivalled customer service, 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 Best Practices session with IHCL’s HR team, led by Dr PV Murthy. Organised on August 29, 2019, AirAsia’s delegation exhibited keen interest to know the overall strategic alignment of Learning & Development (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 can be cascaded across functions, individual properties, and finally to the last employee. While AirAsia employees are efficient in technical aspects of the business, softer aspects such as sensitisation to Indian culture, continuous training, communication and awareness were the areas of improvement identified by the company.

Talking about customer excellence at IHCL, Sireesha Chandana – AVP, L&D and Employee Engagement, elaborated, “Few organisations demonstrate sincere care and warmth as done by IHCL towards all its employees. Our guiding principles emphasise on building long-term relationships, emotionally engaging with our stakeholders, and in times of dilemma, follow our values to do what is best for the guest. This way, the organisation ensures sustained business success.’’

The guiding principles of IHCL’s customer service approach come naturally from its 115-year-old heritage, company values and the vision of Tata group founder, Jamsetji Tata. In the service sector, there are many ‘moments of truth’, and each of them is unique. If there is a conflict between Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) and the guest’s requirement, IHCL has empowered its employees to do what is best for the customer, provided the request falls within ethical and legal boundaries. Employees are encouraged to make decisions with the approach that they own the business.

The IHCL HR team further elaborated about their hiring and training processes. In addition to information about training initiatives, including employee grooming, voice and accent training, and customer engagement models, details on training for employees to handle cross-cultural nuances, difficult customers, below par service, culture meets, and millennial employees, was also shared. IHCL also threw light on some support processes which encourage a culture of learning and demonstrating ‘discretionary effort’ among the employees.

Participant Speak

I like the fact that you are trying to develop a long-term relationship with a customer while interacting with them. There are so many positive things that we can take away from IHCL. However, to start with, we have picked up two strategic areas and ensure that we deliver on that front with consistency — developing service standards and creating a ground-up ecosystem for continuous learning and long-term development. 

Anjali Chatterjee
Head, People & Culture, AirAsia India

Building a customer-focused culture is key to organisational success, and we will reflect on IHCL best practices and learnings to further strengthen our focus.

Santosh Chand
Head, Customer Happiness, AirAsia India

About the EPIC Programme

EPIC carries forward the Tata Best Practices Programme by helping companies adapt Best Practices from the group through a structured collaborative process, under the guidance of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) from Best Practice organisations. EPIC is a platform that brings together the provider and the receiver companies together to enable successful adaptation and implementation of best practices.