Exclusive interview: Jayson Goh, Changi Airport Group

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How has Changi Airport evolved since it was established in 1981?

Over the years we have built up a set of skills and expertise in running the airport smoothly to meet the expectations of all our passengers. The challenge is to continue running the airport well and to serve passengers to the best extent we can on a commercially viable and sustainable basis.

Previously under the auspices of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, Changi Airport Group (CAG) was corporatized in 2009 and now offers more flexibility for us to work with our partners and with the airport community on a win-win basis to grow and develop together. Achieving sustainable business growth is a good indication that we have been doing the right thing. At CAG we believe that providing excellent service and generating good commercial returns are not in conflict with each other. If we offer good service and passenger facilities it attracts more travelers and airlines, thus generating healthy returns.

Of course, against the fast-changing landscape of the aviation industry, there is also greater impetus for us to seek growth and opportunities in new areas outside Singapore. Changi Airports International (CAI), a wholly owned subsidiary of CAG, brings know-how and valuable experience to benefit overseas airport partners in different parts of the world.

For example, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority has, since November 2008, appointed CAI as its consultant to help manage Dammam Airport. A CAI team of consultants has been based in Dammam since then to help grow its flight and passenger numbers as well as boost its service levels. Overseas investments and projects are key opportunities for CAG to share our experience to jointly build growth as a long-term partner.

Right: T4 combines unique terminal design and innovative use of technology

What projects is Changi currently working on?

In 2017 Singapore Changi Airport will unveil a brand-new fourth passenger terminal alongside its current three terminals. It has been designed with the flexibility required to meet the operational needs of both regional full service and low-cost carriers. Terminal 4 will feature productivity initiatives to improve efficiency of processes and better meet the challenges of a tighter labor market. For instance, departure and arrival immigration control, as well as preboarding security screening, will be centralized for more efficient deployment of manpower and equipment.

Jewel Changi Airport, the iconic mixed-use complex fronting Changi Airport Terminal 1, will further enhance the airport’s offerings and strengthen its position as an international air hub. Scheduled for completion in 2018, the complex will offer aviation and travel-related facilities, a wide range of retail offerings, as well as unique leisure attractions. A key feature of Jewel Changi Airport is a large, lush indoor garden with a breathtaking central waterfall. The complex will deliver an amazing and unique experience all under one roof, including al fresco dining with great views in cool comfort. Envisaged to be a world-class, signature lifestyle destination, Jewel Changi Airport will enable Changi Airport to encourage tourism and strongly boost Singapore’s appeal as a stopover point for global travelers.

Left: Jewel Changi Airport will open in 2018 and will include a range of aviation and travel-related facilities

What are Changi’s future plans?

We are optimistic for the future of Changi Airport but there is also a degree of volatility and uncertainty in the challenges that lie ahead. Airlines and air traffic will continue to grow and drive growth opportunities. Singapore is well positioned as an air hub in the Asia-Pacific region. If more air routes are opened up to new attractive destinations in the region, it would be a win-win situation for all.

Singapore has also been increasing its attractiveness with the opening of the ‘integrated resorts’ [a Singaporean casino-based vacation resort], the Singapore Flyer, new attractions at Sentosa, Gardens by the Bay and the River Safari. By attracting popular global events such as the Formula 1 night race, Singapore’s reputation as a major events hub will be enhanced. The entertainment and dining scene has improved by leaps and bounds. All these will help drive traffic growth at the airport.

We will continue to work with our airline and airport partners and strive to provide an even better airport experience that will delight passengers and visitors alike. Constant innovation to improve our services and facilities is a must so that we can delight more passengers with a personalized, stress-free and positively surprising experience.

Right: The Instant Feedback System (IFS) allows passengers at key airport touch points to register their satisfaction levels immediately after using the service

How do you ensure a positive customer experience?

Excellent customer service is synonymous with Changi Airport and we have sought innovative solutions and leveraged technology to serve our customers better. To deliver the Changi Experience, the Instant Feedback System (IFS) is one of our proudest achievements. IFS allows passengers at key airport touch points, such as check-in, immigration, information counters, toilets, as well as retail and F&B outlets, to register their satisfaction levels immediately after using the service or after a service encounter with frontline staff.

Their ratings, provided through interactive touchscreen devices, are transmitted through the IFS system and can be accessed by the respective agencies’ supervisors in the form of live reports. Supervisors can take concrete action immediately to acknowledge good performing staff or address unhappy customers.

In addition, data collected from the instant feedback empowers Changi’s airport partners to be more responsive and proactive in addressing customer feedback. The compiled ratings under IFS will also allow airport agencies and businesses to conduct trend analyses for better resource planning, productivity improvement and identification of service gaps. Customer-centric initiatives like IFS have transformed the way we understand and relate to our customers.

Personalized, stress-free and positively surprising, many of Changi’s best innovations are small and considerate, and go into creating what we call the Changi Experience. As an example, if you simply stand around looking perplexed, one of more than 200 iPad-wielding Changi Experience Agents – men in purple blazers and women in pink – will ask you what’s wrong and attempt to fix the problem, which could involve rebooking flights or simply showing you where to find a power socket to charge your cell phone.

As well as putting hardware and software in place, we also strongly believe in ‘heartware’, a fundamental aspect of the iconic Changi Experience. For instance, we recognize exceptional service contributions by our frontline staff at an Annual Airport Celebration ceremony. This is where awards are presented to outstanding individuals, teams and organizations that have demonstrated the commitment and concerted effort required to push the boundaries of customer service.

In addition we also run a Quality Service Management program with the objective of aligning all airport partners toward the goal of providing quality service and cultivating a customer-oriented service culture among airport staff. Over the years it has included activities such as campaigns, training workshops, awards and incentives, benchmarking programs, study visits and welfare programs that demonstrate Changi Airport’s care for its staff members.

How are passenger demands changing and how do you address these needs?

Every day more than 140,000 passengers pass through our terminals. On top of that, Changi receives tens of thousands of visitors a week, especially families with children. This calls for innovative ideas and an unstinting focus on quality and engagement.

As the aviation industry and the demands of passengers have evolved, Changi Airport has also done much to keep up with the changes. Beyond providing the basic functionalities of an airport, Changi has made big strides in operational efficiency, customer service and delivering a memorable Changi Experience – the result of putting our passengers first and at the heart of everything we do.

Travelers typically demand efficiency and convenience, both of which Changi can be proud of. We design our terminals so that they don’t get overcrowded, maintain our facilities well and structure our work processes to ensure that all travelers can pass through as easily and quickly as possible.

How will the airport continue to evolve?

There are already plans for breakthrough features to raise productivity levels at the new Terminal 4 through the design itself and innovative use of technology. With a range of self-service options, passengers can expect to whizz through the various touch points in a simple, fast and stress-free manner, from check-in to immigration clearance and boarding at the departure gates. By leveraging technology and redesigning process flow via automated check-in and identity authentication, airlines and ground handlers will be able to save on manpower and redeploy staff to take on other duties. This is a monumental

leap in terms of improving airport design and enhancing productivity. 

About Jayson Goh

Jayson joined the Changi Airport Group (CAG) in 2013 and currently serves as senior vice president, airport operations management, overseeing the arrival experience and departure experience divisions, as well as the experience creation, horticulture and facility management teams. Prior to joining CAG, Jayson was executive director at the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), helming the Infocomms & Media Industry Division, responsible for the development of the ICT, digital media and electronic systems sectors in Singapore.

January 23, 2015

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About Author

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Kirstie joined the team in early 2017 and brings writing, communications and client experience with her. Now an assistant editor, she produces content for magazines Passenger Terminal World and Postal and Parcel Technology International and their websites. Away from the office, you will find her struggling along the pavements of Surrey as she trains for the Great South Run, blogging on her lifestyle website or searching the internet for photos of sausage dogs.

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