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Cathay cabin crews have lost their smiles


I CONTINUE to be amazed by the way Cathay Pacific is trying to manage its problems.

For an airline that prides itself on customer service, it seems woefully out of touch with the real issue. Anyone who knows anything about customer service would understand that unhappy employees cannot provide the kind of service that produces high levels of customer satisfaction. Cathay management seems to be spending all its time and attention on plans to win back customers and travel agents, but little to no time trying to win back the hearts of its own employees.

I'd like to think I know a bit about customer satisfaction, and I certainly know a lot about Cathay's service, having flown more than 200,000 kilometres on Cathay in the past 12 months alone. I am often asked to complete Cathay questionnaires and did so as recently as three days prior to the start of the strike. I'm sure Cathay management was delighted with my comments at the time which heaped praise on the airline's service and the attitude of its employees. Management would not be very pleased with my comments now.

I flew back to Hongkong on Cathay the day the strike began and have flown on Cathay twice since the strike ended. Cathay management said in an article in the South China Morning Post on February 5, that ''everything is back to normal''. However, it hardly looks like the same airline anymore. The genuine, natural smiles are gone, and have been replaced with a perfunctory style that one might expect from some American or European airlines, but never from the airline that ''takes pride in its old-fashioned ideas about service''.

Cathay management would be wise to take some remedial training on the subject of customer satisfaction so it will be reminded of the most basic rule. Customer satisfaction starts with employee satisfaction.