According to the case description, Oriental Airlines appears to be a major airline because it services 90 destinations on five continents with an employee base of 25,000 plus a considerable cargo operation. With this consideration, it is safe to assume that it grew to become a major airline by continually seeking ways to improve its overall performance–whether it be for domestic (in-country) flights or international flights; economy class or business class passenger amentities; or by some other means such as offering great fares, customer service or marketing. Even though any or all of the previous tactics worked, Oriental Airlines does not appear to be satisfied with their current performance as they are still interested in what drives customer rention among business travelers.
Perhaps this is one of the markets that is their “bread and butter” so to speak.As a consultant hired specifically to assess what is needed to improve training at the airline, makes me a bit leary at the onset. After reading the introduction to the case, I have more questions than answers. What if the problem is not rooted in training? What if it stems from management or some other aspect? Are the training objectives they hope to implement aligned with their core business objectives? One known fact is that all airlines (serving passengers) are considered a service industry and customer service is of the essence if they are to remain competitive and successful.The key to improving performance in any organization is to have a starting point or finite data that allows for measurement.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
This data must present a clear picture of where you are now so that a realistic projection of where you want to be can be determined. If data of past performance is available, it could become helpful in some cases. It could be used to assess periods of growth or failure in order to determine helpful strategies of what not to do and what is working. The other part of improving performance is the method or strategy to be implemented in order to reach the end goal. The first step in working with Oriental Airlines is to work with management to perform a thorough diagnosis or analysis of the current situation. The client appears to fall into the Expert Model category as outlined in the Module 1 notes where they have defined the problem they wish to explore and resolve it through the use of a consultant.
Specifically, the problem is customer retention, especially among business travellers. While they believe the solution lies in the area of training, as a consultant, we cannot be too sure. Swanson (2007, p. 37) advises that “good problem solvers control the definition of the problem–they do not unquestionably accept others’ judgments.” As a consultant, I think it is wise to heed this advice. A better approach would be to begin by interviewing key members of departments that management feels are having issues.
Furthermore, as a consultant, I might need to step back and take a more global approach since this airline operates on five different continents. Experience tells me that management styles vary across cultures, so this may be another consideration in the beginning that might allow for a broader approach the problem areas, which might then be narrowed for resolving the most critical after thorough analysis.Then I would systematically create a proper map of current process and procedures so that bottlenecks and areas of improvement can easily be identified.
Moving back to the information in the case study, the data presented in this first phase is difficult to assess as far as customer retention is concerned because of the gap between the 1990s survey and 2006 when Oriental Airlines carried over 15 million passengers. Understandably, the survey revealed traveler sentiments of good service but not an abundance of warmth and friendliness. With 15 million passengers having flown on Oriental Airlines by 2006, there is no indication of whether this number decreased or increased from the 1990s’ survey, which at the time resulted in a reexamination of company training, recruiting and management practices. As a consultant, I would want to know the passenger data from previous years to determine at what point in time and what class of passengers showed an increase or decrease in travel.