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

Ms Foo Juat Fang, who has helped to train Singapore Airlines' cabin crew since 1996, and pilot Senthilvalavan Ganapathi are both trainers at the Singapore Airlines Academy, a new arm that the airline has set up to conduct training for companies.
Ms Foo Juat Fang, who has helped to train Singapore Airlines' cabin crew since 1996, and pilot Senthilvalavan Ganapathi are both trainers at the Singapore Airlines Academy, a new arm that the airline has set up to conduct training for companies.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

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.

It will begin offering training programmes in areas such as 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 sector and even the construction industry 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.

SIA declined to reveal its projected earnings from the initiative.

Captain Senthilvalavan Ganapathi, a pilot of 21 years and now also a trainer with the academy, said the Covid-19 pandemic has been a trigger for SIA to broaden its services beyond its traditional ones.

Pre-pandemic, he helped to train about 200 pilots a year. He said the role of a pilot has evolved from one of merely operating machinery to one of managing people and being able to react to unpredictable situations. These skills are transferable to other industries, he said.

"There are parallels across human-intensive industries - skills like teamwork, communication and how to persuade people to pursue a path in a crisis, for example."

Now 47, he hopes to also learn from the people he trains. 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.

She cited an incident of a passenger who 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 defuse the situation before succeeding.

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

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2020, with the headline 'SIA to offer training in customer service, other areas to firms'. Print Edition | Subscribe