Quality Management is the process of overseeing all tasks and activities that is a must to maintain the high level of excellence that is desired. This consists of creating and implementing these three key elements; Quality Planning, Quality Assurance & Quality Control and Quality Improvement. (Dr. Sha’ri bin Mohd Yusof, 2003)
These three different parts plays an important role in quality management which basically consist of quality planning, quality control and assurance, and as well as quality improvement (Rose .K, 2005)
Air Asia is the first Low Cost Carrier to operate in Asia. Beginning its operations in 2001, it has risen to become one of the leading Low Cost Carriers.
Air Asia creates values through the following vision and mission:
To be the largest low cost airline in Asia and serving the 3 billion people who are currently underserved with poor connectivity and high fares.
To be the best company to work for whereby employees are treated as part of a big family
Create a globally recognized ASEAN brand
To attain the lowest cost so that everyone can fly with Air Asia
Maintain the highest quality product, embracing technology to reduce cost and enhance service levels
(Air Asia, 2012)
Quality control and quality assurance departments have existed for a long time, but the quality management concept is relatively new. In a way, it is a preliminary approach to quality assurance, because it approaches and covers quality from many different angles.
In this critical analysis, all three components will be discussed with Quality Improvement as main point of focus.
According to ISO 9000:2000 the definition of Quality Planning is “art of quality management focused on setting quality objectives and specifying necessary operational processes and related resources to fulfill quality objectives” (kwaliteg.co.za, n.d). A Quality Plan is a layout specifying which procedures and associated resources shall be applied by when and by whom to a specific project, product, process, or contract. (Electronics.T, 2003)
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Air Asia has created a department which is called Corporate Quality. They view themselves as the extra wings that support the other departments’ soar to excellence. They assist others in their daily operational issues and help ensure that their procedures are in place (Fernandes & Kandiah, 2012). They also monitor operational performances and service deliveries by reviewing their processes and conducting analysis to identify the roots of their problems (Kandiah, 2012).
Some of the areas they are involved in:
Continuous Improvement projects
Station audit and station studies
Monthly Online Customer Satisfaction Survey
Core Process Review
Quality Assurance and Control
Quality control is a critical concept that is in every industry or profession (Larry, 2007). In Air Asia, Quality Assurance and Control is heavily taken into account. Air Asia has achieved ISO 9000 standards in Quality Management. ISO is a recognition given by the International Organization of Standardization. This proves how much importance Air Asia has given into quality (Fernandes, 2010). Besides that, quality assurance is of real advantage in terms of identifying whether the procedure that is used to produce the product or services are suitable for the right time and as well as conditions (Kietzman S., 2011).
To ensure the highest level of quality and satisfactory, Air Asia has very simple guidelines ensure quality. According Air Asia’s recent studies, there is very little to be done in their quality assurance and control methods. This is because they have already achieved a very high reputation amongst consumers and users.
Air Asia has 6 main strategies to assure that the quality of service and operations does not fluctuate (Budhiarta, 2009). The quality assurance team has laid out six strategies that Air Asia should rely on this year to maximize output while also being the best again this year.
Partnering with the world’s most renowned maintenance providers and complying with the world airline operations.
High Aircraft Utilization
Implementing the regions fastest turnaround time at only 25 minutes, assuring lower costs and higher productivity.
Low Fare, No Frills Providing
Guests with the choice of customizing services without compromising on quality and services.
Making sure that processes are as simple as possible.
Lean Distribution System
Offering a wide and innovative range of distribution channels to make booking and traveling easier.
Point to Point Network
Applying the point-to-point network keeps operation simple and lower costs
Air Asia also emphasizes quality in every other external aspect as well. For example, from the food and beverages served until the quality of training that is given to all the employees. This is also another major factor why Air Asia has beaten all their competitors in their category with a big margin.
Quality Improvements & Analysis
The definition of quality improvements under the ISO standards states that it is the actions taken throughout the organization to increase the effectiveness of activities and also provide added benefits to the customers and the organization while having systematic efforts improving it. (Transition-support.com, 2012)
Throughout the years, Air Asia has been improving the quality very drastically. In August 2003, Air Asia became the first airline in the world to introduce a SMS booking system where customers can book their seats, check their flight schedules and obtain new update on promotions straight to their mobile phones. They have also recently launched a real-time holiday package purchasing system called GO Holiday (Kandiah, 2012). However, the online system is not flawless. The website is visited by over a hundred thousand visitors a day and with this number of traffic, the website becomes unavailable at times. This becomes very frequent during promotions periods and the website becomes inaccessible. In order to accommodate to the traffic, new servers with larger hosting capability are required. This will help Air Asia maintain a high level of quality. To ensure a higher standard of quality, Air Asia should expand their IT department in order to bring the process of hosting the website in-house.
To ensure the convenience of guests are met, Air Asia also practices a quick turnaround of 25 minutes, which is the fastest in Asia, which results in high air craft utilization, lower costs, and a better airline and staff productivity (Kandiah, 2012). This results in increased flight frequency and helps generate more revenue.
Since Air Asia’s turnaround time for every flight is only 25 minutes, which allows them to do non-stop flights, there are always a lot of passengers waiting to get onboard. In order to avoid any unforeseen delays, due to technical errors, it’s better for Air Asia to increase their turnaround time. This will ensure that the inspection team will have enough time to avoid any errors and minimize delays.
Delays in flights can also be caused by the weather. Since there are passengers that are waiting to board the flight, the expectations of the customer will drop because of the waiting time. In order to help compensate the waiting time, Air Asia should kindly give their waiting customers something to help maintain customer satisfaction.
In April 2002, Air Asia launched their nationwide call Centre in Kelana Square with equipped with 50 telephone lines. Since then it has been upgraded to 500 lines due to high volume and sales due to the improvement of their quality (Kandiah, 2012). They now take more than 10,000 calls daily.
Being a low-cost carrier with reduced ticket price, customers can always expect what they pay for. However, Air Asia can still improve on customer expectations by providing better in-flight services. For starters, Air Asia can increase the size of their seats to accommodate passengers comfort. This measure has been taken by Jetstar Airlines in Australia and it has been a proven success.
Another common problem that customers face is luggage waiting time and missing luggage. Currently, if a customer’s loses their luggage, they would have to come back to their arriving airport and collect it themselves. Air Asia could improve their service quality if they can get the customers location and personally give them back the luggage.
In order to improve quality in customer satisfaction, some benefits must be given to frequent fliers. Customers that travel a lot could be given points that can be used to redeem discounts on ticket price and free flights.
For the future, Air Asia should have a plan to continue their good run in quality and improvement. A 3 step quality improvement road map has been set by the Corporate Quality team.
Figure 1: The 3 Step quality improvement road map.
The basic theory set in the road map is to establish a new QMS (Quality Management System) and also all of Air Asia’s best practices. A two-tier CI (Continual Improvement) program will be deployed. The first tier will need the Lean Six Sigma methodology as breakthrough. The second tier will then consists of a QCC (Quality Control Circle) which will make their strategy sustain. The final step is to win everything and sweep all the awards that they are nominated. With this way, the world will recognize the quality of Air Asia is very high, even though being a Low Cost Carrier. By implementing this method successfully, Air Asia can once again be kings of the low cost carrier industry.
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In the near future, Air Asia is also planning to improve their current survey system to a high-end Ideas Web Portal. In this portal, customers can post, vote, and view ideas that they think will make the journey with is a pleasant one (Kandiah, 2012). Air Asia can then take all these suggestions and work on them. This will prove to be a very successful portal in the near future and will increase the perception of quality within the customers tremendously.
C:UsersKugan PDesktopIdeas Portal.jpg
Figure 2: Concept of Ideas Web Portal
The major way to improve Air Asia’s quality currently is based on solely customer service values. Going beyond what is expected and delighting their customer will increase their quality, adding service value, sometimes without the direct return of customer support in terms of purchase and loyalty. (James, 1996)
Air Asia is at the stage where it needs to properly set in a place a solid quality foundation upon which it will base its growth. Air Asia will be doing a lot more quality improvement initiatives that involve cross-functions and multiple teams, which require better coordination. At the same time, Customer Experience, which is a critical part of its strategy going forward, will be equipped with its own quality team and people so it can handle it quality and service challenges even better.
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