SIA to offer training in customer service, other areas to firms

SIA will begin offering training programmes in areas like customer service and crisis management. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Amid challenging times for air travel, Singapore Airlines (SIA) has launched another effort to diversify its revenue stream, this time relying on its reputation for world-class service.

On Tuesday (Nov 3), it announced that it will begin offering training programmes in areas like customer service and crisis management to all interested companies, through a new training arm it has created called the Singapore Airlines Academy.

Having trialled a three-day course calibrated for about 25 patient care officers at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in September, the airline now hopes to get firms in the retail, food and beverage, and even construction sectors to engage its services.

Said its senior vice-president of human resources Vanessa Ng: "SIA receives many requests from organisations wanting to know how we have attained our reputation for industry-leading service and operational excellence, and to better understand how we achieved our successful digital transformation."

The Singapore Airlines Academy "has the potential to add a new source of revenue in the coming years", she added, although SIA declined to reveal its projected earnings from the programme.

Captain Senthilvalavan, a pilot with 21 years of experience who is now also a trainer with the Academy, said Covid-19 was a "trigger" for SIA to broaden its services beyond the traditional.

Pre-Covid-19, he helped to train about 200 pilots a year. He said the role of a pilot has evolved from one who merely operates machinery to one who has to manage people and be able to react to unpredictability.

These skills, he said, are transferable to other industries. "There are parallels across human-intensive industries - skills like team work, communication, and how to persuade people to pursue a path in a crisis, for example," he said.

He said he hopes to also learn from the people he trains. Now 47, he said teaching millennials could help him better understand and relate to the younger generation.

Ms Foo Juat Fang, 64, who has helped to train SIA's renowned cabin crew since 1996, said she can share techniques for handling awkward situations.

Recalling her 19 years as part of the cabin crew, she said a passenger once threw a food menu at a stewardess' face when he was told a meal option was unavailable. Keeping their cool, the crew tried all ways to diffuse the situation.

Tips to remain patient and conflict management measures can be taught to those who sign up for the Singapore Airlines Academy.

"We have the nuts and bolts of the essence of what good service is," Ms Foo said. "We have a wealth of experience."

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