This case study talks about the many service quality issues faced by a local mass transport company, SMRT. The company has to still remain functional amidst mass crltlclsrn amongst the public due to Inefficient communication networks, inefficient maintenance and various problems in the senior management. As a newly appointed senior manager, it is imperative that we work towards delivering a high quality service to our customers. There are many tools and quality improvement frameworks that we can use to improve existing service quality standards.
The problems faced by the company start with over 10 breakdowns that have occurred In d p of two years. Due to repetitive service disruptions, the previous CEO, Ms. Saw Phaik Hwa who has apologized publicly and offered false promises, further causing more service disruptions affecting around 127,000 passengers including 1000 passengers stranded in each of the four trains that were stalled. Malntenance Issues This Is one of the main problems that have Impacted the quality of the services provided by SMRT.
Various issues such as misalignment of tracks & lack of evacuation nd emergency plans have impacted the customers' health and have caused some of them a lot of inconvenience and stress There has been serious impact on the servicgs productivity due to the same problems as they have not been able to successfully carry out their promised service. Even when the breakdowns happened, the backup power systems did not turn on and this made the people stranded very uncomfortable and claustrophobic. Excuses were given once again to quickly dismiss these accusations.
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By using Deming's 14 Points of Management, we could find out the root causes of the problem. 1 . Management Commitment: The senior management had not been able to live up to the promises that they have publicly given mainly due to the Inefficiency of the senior management. Had the senior management a closer involvement In the lower-level operations, they might have been able to take suggested actions. 2. Understand Inspection: Due to the various problems mentioned above, it was important for the senior managers to gather relevant information regarding the frequently occurring problems.
This suggests that the communication networks are not very efficient and this wlll be further discussed later In the report, 3. Improve Constantly: The Jepanese have developed d technique called "Kdlzen", which means "Continuous Improvement". This could be used to ensure that quality standards and customer expectations are met by constantly developing all dimensions of the service prov10ea. 4. Institute Iralnlng: Atter one 0T tne DreaK00wns, around 60 maintenance staff were deployed to gather information and rectify the problem that had caused a 5 hour disruption in the services.
However, their inefficiency to analyze and rectify the root cause of the problem suggests that SMRT need to invest in training. . Institute Leadership: Leaders should be coaches and mentor staffs rather than checking on them. The senior management has clearly shown a lack in leadership skills as they have only been giving excuses and false promises. Inefficient Communication Networks: This is another factor that contributed to the reducing service quality of SMRT. Efficient communication between various levels of the business is very important to run an efficient and successful business.
SMRT has been facing various barriers in communicating instructions and messages from senior management to the operating evels and vice versa. The problems that have been occurring have not been reported properly to the higher authorities and hence not been able to receive instructions from the senior management on how to proceed further and improve the quality of the service being provided. Using ISO standards as a benchmark, we can see that SMRT is not being able to maintain high service quality standards.
Since ISO is internationally recognized, this serves as a suitable benchmark. There are few principles that need to be followed in order to get their certification: 1 . Customer Focus: SMRT needs to meet the equirements of the customers and exceed their expectations but they have failed to do so. They have not improved their service quality and hence, their customer experience. 2. Leadership: As mentioned earlier in the report, the leaders have not been able to achieve the goals set and have disappointed their very large customer base. . Factual approach to decision-making: Since the employees are inefficient and have not been able to analyze data and information, their supervisors have not been able to suggest proper course of action. 4. System approach to management: According to this principle, all processes are interrelated. Since there has been a lack of co-ordination amongst the employees of every level, SMRT has not been able to manage their technologically advanced systems.
One other instance of lack of a coordinated communication systems was the humiliating and controversial message template that SMRT sent to its taxi drivers asking them to seize the "income opportunity' that arose because of the MRT breakdown. The common citizenry has heavily criticized this inappropriate message further contributing to the declining public image of the company. uggested Improvements Using Malcom Balbridge National Quality Award's 7 Criteria of Performance Excellence as the benchmark, there are quite a few improvements that could be suggested.
To begin with: Leadership: Effective leadership brings out the best out of every employee of the firm, since the resignation of the previous CEO, the current CEO will take some time to settle into the position and it is important to make sure that he/she receives timely communication and proper assistance from other managers. Strategic Planning: It was very clear that the previous management have ot defined their future strategies clearly and have not prepared proper contingency plans and this has made life difficult for the customers and the management of SMRT.
To ensure that this does not happen in the future, SMRT could conduct a formal meeting with all stakeholders to develop a strong and effective strategy with the public's opinion also taken in mind. Also, regular track and train maintenance should be conducted to reduce the chances of such problems arising again. Customer Focus: Surveys could be conducted to understand the customer's xpectations and SMRT could work towards fulfilling them.
The constant service disruptions have already caused the company's image to decline and to make sure that this does not happen in the future, SMRT could look into developing proper plans. Measurement, Analysis and Knowledge Management: The lapses in information and data have also caused grave problems to the company and SMRT should invest in training existing and hiring new skilled employees to analyze and report field data. Workforce Focus: It is important to constantly monitor, motivate and rain the workforce.
As a happy workforce is more efficient and can provide higher service quality that an unmotivated one. This would also increase service quality. Process Management: Ensuring proper contingency, emergency and evacuation plans during service disruptions can help increase quality and reduce the risk to customer's, while indirectly improving the image of the brand. Results: Putting everything together, it is still important to get results and improve the customer's image of the company while maintaining very high standards of service quality.
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