Management Service Processes in a Specific Organization
Critical Evaluation of Effective Management Service Processes: Qantas Airlines
Effective and efficient management service processes are highly important when it comes to any organization that has dealings with the public in a service capacity. Addressed here will be the case and critical evaluation of Qantas airlines, which operates airplanes that shuttle individuals to vacation destinations and work-related conferences, among other needs. The paper will focus on three areas: the effective management of service processes, service people, and resource allocation. All three of these areas must be evaluated, in order to better understand the issues that the company faces. Additionally, all three areas generally work together to help an organization reach maximum efficiency and effectiveness. With that in mind, examining all three issues for Qantas will show how well the company is doing and whether there are things it could do to improve in the future, so it could better satisfy its customers.
Qantas is not immune to the difficulties that airlines and other service-oriented businesses face. One must consider all that Qantas goes through from a service and management perspective in order to remain relevant in the market and continue to make a profit. With that in mind, one consideration for Qantas would be a service marketing strategy plan. These kinds of plans are generally designed to provide a higher degree of success based on how resources are allocated, how customers are treated, and how employee perform their work (Easdown, 2006). Plans that address a company's service marketing strategy also focus on the specifics of the three main areas to be addressed. The following pages will consider how a plan of these type could be employed and used by Qantas, based on the areas in which the company is currently struggling. How Qantas allocates its current resources (and how it should be allocating them for maximum efficiency and effectiveness), as well as how it currently maintains and managers both its customers and its employees will all be discussed.
Among the main issues Qantas needs to address is customer loyalty and satisfaction. How best to do that, though, has to be examined from the standpoint of the processes that are undertaken in order to please both customers and employees. This is how service processes tie into the area of service people. For purposes of clarity and discussion, however, they will be kept separate here. Customer loyalty and customer satisfaction have to be earned, and one of the way in which they can be earned is through the correct treatment of those customers. This is vague, however, and must be clarified by any company that wants to be successful in a service-based industry. It is not possible to simply say that one will "treat customers well." How does the company propose to treat customers well? What is the given definition of "well" that the company will use? What will take place when the customer and the company differ on their opinions of proper treatment? There are many issues to consider, and service people are at the heart of all of them.
Handling service people correctly starts with leadership (Morrison & Winston, 1990; Kotlyar & Karakowsky, 2006; Bass & Avolio, 1994). For Qantas, the largest driving factor when it comes to satisfied customers is how those customers are treated, and they must be treated by service people in the way those service people have been taught to treat them by the leaders of the organization. In other words, the service people that are doing their jobs at Qantas are the driving force behind the company, and also the determining factor when it comes to how passengers actually feel about their experience with Qantas. Despite that, the service that they provide is not automatically understood when they come to work with the airline, so they must undergo training (a service process) that will allow them to be better prepared for what they will offer to the customers and what their job requires them to offer to the customer even if they disagree. Where service people are concerned, the adage that the customer is always right is still part of the equation.
With the exception of truly egregious issues, the service people must defer to the customer's "correct" interpretation of the issue. Only if leadership overrules this are service people to deny the customer the item or service for which he or she is asking. People are much more likely to return to a company where they were treated well (Velocci, 1995; Zerbe & Mumford, 1996). If the customers find a company that treats them correctly, they will come back to that company for their needs and wants again and again. For Qantas, treating customers properly should be the most important thing the company does. The only way to get (and keep) customers that have company loyalty is to be sure that they are happy with what one is offering and that they do not have a better offer from somewhere else (Wilcox, 1971). The proper treatment of customers by the service people has to be spelled out correctly, however, so that both service people and customers have a clear understanding of all of the rights and responsibilities that become theirs when they choose to do business with the company in any capacity.
As an airline, Qantas has a large number of competitors. There are many airlines that will be interested in going the "extra mile" for customers, but right now airlines are having trouble with the economy just like many other service businesses. Still, customer loyalty is considered to be the lifeblood of the airlines (Qantas, 2011). The company needs customers that have made the choice to fly with Qantas no matter what else is offered to them by other airlines and companies, because that is the type of loyalty that is required to increase and keep good profitability. In order to acquire and keep those customers, service people must follow established guidelines for customer treatment at all times. If they do not, they can find that they no longer have employment with that company. In order for service people to maintain the level of service required, however, they must remain pleased with what they are being offered in return for that service. The productivity of employees is also a vital part of any service organization - including Qantas.
This is largely due to the amount of interaction that is seen between customers and employees (Easdown, 2006). The workers in the terminal are seen by passengers, and there are also the flight attendants that are seen by passengers once they actually board the plane. There is interaction with the crew and the captain as the passengers get information about their upcoming flight. If employees on the flight and in the terminal are productive and helpful, customers are served quickly, their needs are met, and they have a good experience (Price Gundlach, 1995). Treating customers and employees correctly is a process, but it is the people who make that process possible and allow it to continue. Every employee has needs, and finding out what those needs are can help a service business meet those needs (Kotlyar & Karakowsky, 2006; Bass & Avolio, 1994). Meeting both employee and customer needs is part of the way a company can correctly handle service people and ensure that the part of their operation that requires human understanding and ability continues to run smoothly (Smith, Leimkuhler, & Darrow, 1992; Young, n.d.). A company is more than its people, however, and if the processes through which a customer must go to obtain what he or she needs do not function correctly, that customer is not likely to return.
Service processes are used by service people to ensure that a business provides a good experience for a customer. Understanding these processes is crucial, however, because a lack of understanding is often at the heart of communication breakdowns that occur inside any company (Easdown, 2006). Processes include the purchase and redemption of tickets, handing over and reclaiming baggage, and the actual boarding and disembarking of the airplane itself. Each one of these service processes requires more than most customers think about, but that is the goal - that the process is seamless to the customer, and he or she does not have to think about how it all works. Customers are not interested in what happens to their baggage once they hand it over to the ticket agent. They only want to know that it will arrive safely at their destination at the same time they arrive. Airlines that cannot provide this kind of experience to customers consistently have difficulties that relate to the service processes by which they operate their business. Those processes must be adjusted in order to correct the problem, but these adjustments can only come from an understanding of where the breakdown occurred and why the service process failed at that point.