Emirates Airline’s Performance Measurement System

Executive Summary

The performance management is a strategy followed by each company in order to improve the quality of the work. However, the used performance management and measurement systems are usually different not only for various organizations but also for separate departments in one organization. Thus, the Customer Affairs and Service Audit Department of Emirates, the leading airline in the United Arab Emirates, uses the specially developed approach. The performance measurement system is introduced to evaluate the performance of employees in relation to the provided customer support and services. This report aims to present the conclusions on the system’s effectiveness to address the objectives of the performance management and contribute to improving the customer loyalty.

The data related to the activities of the Customer Affairs and Service Audit Department and the used performance measurement system were collected with the help of the in-depth interview with the manager of the Service Audit Unit. The focus on the qualitative research suggests the use of the semi-private interview protocol to fix the information areas for the further analysis. The collected data are analyzed with the emphasis on the criteria of the performance management system quality.

The findings demonstrate that the management of the Department determines three areas for which specific, quantifiable KPIs are proposed. These areas include Quality of Response, Quality of Operations and Resolution Time, and Customer Experience and Satisfaction. The analysis of the KPIs is conducted daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. The results of the analysis are reviewed by the Department Performance Manager for taking measures and updating the KPIs.

The analysis of the performance measurement system in the Customer Affairs and Service Audit Department of Emirates regarding its effectiveness indicates that the system is appropriate and efficient because of addressing such criteria as relevance, unity, timeliness, and consistency.

Introduction

The effective performance management in different types of organizations depends on the efficiency of the used performance measurement system. The performance management should be discussed as the constant monitoring of the employees’ accomplishments and successes influencing the quality of the overall organization’s performance. In order to state whether the performance fits the managers and leaders’ expectations, it is necessary to focus on the measurement approaches or metrics utilized to determine certain criteria according to which the performance can be evaluated (Parmenter 29). It is important to note that in such large companies as Emirates, the airline based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), each department develops its own performance measurement system in order to address the specific expectations regarding the quality of the performance in the concrete area of activities.

The purpose of this report is to analyze the effectiveness of the performance management system used in the Customer Affairs and Service Audit Department of Emirates with the focus on the efficiency of the performance measurement element. The report discusses the background information on such organization as Emirates and on the general approaches to the performance management followed in its departments. The research method and the data collection tools are discussed in the next section of the report. The findings of the study focused on examining the current performance management and measurement system in the Customer Affairs and Service Audit Department of Emirates are presented in the largest section of this report to discuss the managers’ experience in detail. The conclusions regarding the effectiveness of the used performance management system and approaches are provided in the final section of the report.

Background of the Organization

Emirates is the leading airline in the UAE that started operations in 1985. Since those times, Emirates, as the subsidiary company of the Emirates Group, has developed actively, and the number of countries and regions where the airline operates increases annually (Appendix A). Thus, the company operates not only in the MENA countries but also in the Western countries, and the percentage of Westerners choosing this airline regularly grows (“The Emirates Group Annual Report 2014-2015” 5). As a result, the company focuses on the customer loyalty and the quality of customer services while developing the Customer Affairs and Service Audit Department.

It is important to state that the organizational structure of the Customer Affairs and Service Audit Department is rather complex, and this condition is influenced by the necessity to address the customers’ needs worldwide with the focus on their cultures and expectations. Therefore, the Department headed by the Department Director includes three main units that are the Customer Relations Unit serving the Arab community and customers from the MENA countries; the Customer Relations Unit serving the customers worldwide; and the Service Audit Unit measuring the quality of performance (“Emirates” par. 4).

Customer Relations Units are directed by Customer Experience Managers who control the work of the customer support specialists. The Service Audit Unit is directed by the Quality Assurance Manager, who is responsible for the analysis of the data on the customer support specialists’ performance (Appendix B). These data are reported to the Department Performance Manager, who develops effective management and measurement systems to be followed in the Department, depending on the determined strategy.

The main goal of the Customer Affairs and Service Audit Department’s activities is to ensure that customers receive the high-quality services and to guarantee that the customer support team will resolve all issues leading to the clients’ dissatisfaction. Thus, the Department works to increase the customer loyalty and to improve the quality of the provided services and support for customers as representatives of different cultures and backgrounds (“Emirates” par. 5). As a consequence, the high-quality performance of the Department contributes to the organization’s profitability and the number of actual operations in the MENA region and globally significantly (“The Emirates Group Annual Report 2014-2015” 6). The high level of the customer support services is one of the main factors to attract more customers and add to the company’s competitive advantage and progress.

In order to ensure that the customer support specialists work effectively to resolve the problematic issues and improve the customers’ experience, the Department Performance Manager controls the work of the performance management and measurement system in the Customer Affairs and Service Audit Department. The focus on the performance measurement is significant for the Department because the quality of the units’ work influences the possibilities to get back or increase the customer loyalty considerably. The performance management system is based on the regular collection of the data regarding the employees’ communication with customers and successes in resolving the issues. As a result, the performance monitoring and quality checks are typical for the Department because they allow inspecting the problematic areas and improving the customer services.

In this context, the effective performance management system is important for the Department because it allows the constant monitoring of the employees’ work and behaviors that need to be examined in the context of the customers’ satisfaction or dissatisfaction. If the performance management system in the Customer Affairs and Service Audit Department works inappropriately, the services associated with the customers’ support are not provided efficiently.

There are limited opportunities for the situation improvement, and the risk of the customers’ dissatisfaction increases significantly. At this stage, the performance management and measurement system works as a guarantee of focusing on the customers’ needs and expectations. The performance of such employees as call handlers and case specialists needs to be monitored effectively in order to determine how the quality of customer support specialists’ work can influence the changes in the number of regained or newly attracted customers.

The improvement of the performance management approach became the priority for the Department in the early 2000s because the 9/11 attacks affected the number of the airline’s customers significantly. The level of the customer loyalty decreased (Nataraja and Al-Aali 474). In order to overcome the negative consequences of the external factors, the management team of the Department focused on developing and implementing the efficient performance management system. This system is evaluated, revised, and regularly improved, depending on changes in the numbers of customers, their quality expectations, the company’s quality targets, and duties performed by the customer support specialists. This approach contributes to the annual growth in the employees’ performance quality.

Research Method and Data Collection

The analysis of the effectiveness of the performance management and measurement system used in the Customer Affairs and Service Audit Department of Emirates is based on following the qualitative research method. The qualitative research is appropriate to collect the data regarding the utilized strategies and metrics without the focus on the numeric analysis of the performance management system’s efficiency. In order to collect the necessary data on the used performance management metrics and criteria, the in-depth interview was selected as the data collection method. The manager of the Service Audit Unit responsible for collecting the performance data and reporting to the Quality Assurance Manager was contacted with the help of the e-mail to plan the interview. The interviewee was informed regarding the topic of the research and the time required for the conversation. The next stage was the interview with the respondent by the use of the phone.

The semi-structured interview protocol was used in order to plan the conversation with the respondent and cover all the areas of inquiry that are necessary for conducting the analysis of the performance management and measurement system in terms of its effectiveness. The interview questions covered the following subjects: the regularity of assessments; key areas of performance; key performance indicators (KPIs); analysis of the KPIs; ways to address the inefficient performance; and ways to improve the system. The analysis of the collected data is realized with the focus on reviewing the answers to questions and highlighting the information regarding the following criteria of the effective performance management and measurement system that should be: (1) relevant (related to the Department specifics); (2) holistic (the focus on the quantitative and qualitative data); (3) timely (regularity of reporting); and (4) consistent (efficiency of measurement tools) (Parmenter 38). These criteria are important to take into account while concluding on the appropriateness of the performance management system to monitor the overall quality of performed tasks and duties.

Findings

The data collected with the help of the interview with the manager of the Service Audit Unit should be categorized according to such aspects as the regularity of conducted assessments; key areas of performance; key performance indicators (KPIs); analysis of the KPIs; ways to address the inefficient performance; and ways to improve the system. The reason for emphasizing these fields of interest is to describe the performance measurement system in detail.

Regularity of Conducted Assessments with the Focus on Goals

The used performance management system includes the regular monitoring of the employees’ performance with the focus on the set goals and KPIs. The Department follows the performance plans oriented not only to the performance goals but also to the company’s strategic goals in regaining clients and increasing the customer loyalty. Short assessments of the regular employees’ performance with the focus on the speed of their answers, productivity, and quality of provided services are conducted weekly. The detailed assessments of the quality of the unit work are conducted monthly. Focusing on the company’s strategic goals, the performance is also measured monthly and quarterly, and the main criterion is the customer feedback. The complex performance evaluation with the focus on the Department and company’s goals is conducted annually.

Key Areas of Performance

The performance management team of the Customer Affairs and Service Audit Department of Emirates determined three main areas according to which the performance of the units is assessed. The first key area is the Quality of Response. In this area, the managers discuss the quality of the employees’ response to customers’ complaints and the quality of the overall communication. The goal of the units’ work is to respond to all customers’ calls and messages in order to ensure the airline clients that their experience, complaints, and suggestions are important for the company (“The Emirates Group Annual Report 2014-2015” 7).

The second area is the Quality of Operations and Resolution Time. While focusing on this area metrics, the Performance Manager reviews and analyzes the time required for the effective work with one customer or for handling one case. These data are important to be examined because customers can cease using the services provided by the airline if he or she cannot contact the customer support team appropriately and receive the necessary assistance within the shortest period of time.

The third area is Customer Experience and Satisfaction. The managers of the Department hold the view that the quality of the performance in this specific department can be effectively assessed mainly with references to the customers’ feedbacks. Therefore, much attention is paid to conducting the surveys that can demonstrate the level of the customers’ satisfaction with the provided services and support.

Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for Areas

The level of the performance in the determined areas is measured with references to the KPIs that are different for each area. The proposed KPIs are quantitative, and they are used by managers in order to control the changes in the employees’ performance. Table 1 represents the areas of the performance measurement and the used indicators with the quantitative targets.

Table 1. KPIs for Each Area

Area KPIs Target/Number
Quality of Response The number of generated tickets per day/week/month/ quarter The target usually changes. It should be no higher than the number fixed for the previously determined period (day, week, month, quarter).
The number of customers served per day in a certain unit The target usually changes. The number should be no higher than the number fixed for the period.
The number of customers served per month in a certain unit The target usually changes. The number should be no higher than the number fixed for the period.
The number of non-responded/non-resolved tickets per unit (daily/weekly/monthly) 90% of received tickets should be resolved during the determined period of time. No higher than 10% of received tickets can be left unresolved during the determined period of time.
The percentage of positive/negative feedbacks per unit (monthly/quarterly/annually) The percentage of negative feedbacks per unit received during the determined period of time is no higher than 10%.
Quality of Operations and Resolution Time The time spent for communication with a customer per unit The range is 3-10 minutes, depending on the case and unit.
The customer waiting time per unit The possible range is 1-3 minutes.
The time spent for handling the ticket per unit The range is 3-10 minutes, depending on the case and unit.
Customer Experience and Satisfaction The customer support quality rate according to the customer survey (Arab community) The expected rate is higher than the rate for the determined period of time previously.
The customer support quality rate according to the customer survey (Western and global community) The expected rate is higher than the rate for the determined period of time previously.

Analysis of the KPI

The data collected on KPIs daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually are primarily organized and analyzed with the help of the special soft by the Quality Assurance Manager. The main focus in on comparing the actual data to the targets or expected results and benchmarks. When the analysis of the data is completed, the information is organized in tables and graphs in order to represent the tendencies in the employees’ performance for the determined period of time. There are differences in the process of the data analysis for different periods of time as the procedure of collecting the daily data is significantly shorter than the procedure of collecting the data for a quarter or year. Having conducted the data collection and preliminary analysis of measures for months, quarters, and years, the manager also makes the comments on changed measures or results and reports the data to the Department Performance Manager for the further detailed analysis. The meetings regarding the changes in daily and weekly performance are analyzed and discussed with the staff by the unit managers.

The Department Performance Manager is responsible for deciding on procedures to improve the low performance and on the necessity to review and update the followed KPIs depending on the changes in the company’s operations, strategic goals, and industry tendencies. Thus, the KPIs for units are planned to be updated each quarter in order to address the observed changes in the performance and to improve the measures (Parmenter 39). If there are no reasons to change the KPIs regarding the targeted numbers or percentages, the Performance Manager can decide on postponing the updating procedure.

Ways to Address the Low Performance

If managers find out that the performance is significantly lower than the targeted results, the Department Performance Manager decides on the approaches to improving the lack of performance. The strategy for improving the employees’ performance can include the following steps:

  1. the increase in the number of customer support specialists in the unit where the waiting time for customers is the highest and where the percentage of the efficiently handled tickets is the lowest;
  2. the provision of the additional training for new employees whose low performance results can influence the performance measures for the whole unit;
  3. the re-structuring of the working process and the re-organization of teams working at different tasks if existing teams do not demonstrate the high quality of work.

Such steps are usually implemented monthly or quarterly. Additionally, the individual performance of employees is also monitored and measured according to all these KPIs determined for the work of the whole unit. The individual performance management is important in order to indicate those employees whose work negatively affects the performance indicators for the unit. Such employees with the low performance levels can be repositioned to perform other tasks corresponding with their skills or fired.

Ways to Improve the Performance Management and Measurement System

The existing performance measurement system followed in the Department can be discussed as a result of the years of analyzing the KPIs and adopting innovative approaches to increasing the employees’ performance in relation to the provided customer support. As a result, the managers in the Department agree that the system is rather effective because of its relevance and flexibility. However, there are aspects according to which the performance measurement system can be improved. The managers indicate the possibility of improving the approaches to the assessment of individuals’ performance.

Currently, the data are collected according to the set KPIs and in addition to the main daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually data collection process. As a result, the data regarding the employees’ individual performance usually changes, and managers experience problems with analyzing the large amounts of the statistical data. Therefore, it is possible to suggest the optimization of the data collection process when the information on the individuals’ performance is gathered (Parmenter 54). In addition, it is important to pay more attention to the traditional ways of the employees’ performance assessment as surveys and checklists.

Conclusion

The performance measurement system can be discussed as effective when it is characterized by the following features that were previously determined in the research: (1) relevance; (2) unity or dependence on the holistic perspective; (3) timeliness; and (4) consistency. The analysis of the data collected regarding the performance management and measurement system used in the Customer Affairs and Service Audit Department of Emirates demonstrates that the followed system is relevant. The reason is that the determined KPIs used for measuring the performance are selected appropriately with the focus on the specifics of the Departments’ activities. In this context, it is also important to analyze the effectiveness of the used KPIs.

From this point, the KPIs followed in the Department can be examined with the focus on their number, description, simplicity, impact, alignment, and validity. Thus, the management uses the small number of KPIs in each area to assess the quality of provided services, and fewer KPIs can have the more significant effect on the performance management than many KPIs. In addition, the provided KPIs are simple and understandable for employees to achieve the targets. The impact of these KPIs is also high because they are formulated with references to the expected outcomes. The used KPIs are also appropriate because they do not challenge one another. Finally, the validity is high because employees cannot change the fixed results intentionally.

Paying attention to the holistic perspective, it is important to state that the proposed system is rather unified, and its components are connected to influence each other. Thus, the collection of the data regarding the KPIs for the overall unit and Department is combined with the collection of the individual performance data. The only problematic aspect is that the focus on the quantitative data dominates the collection of the qualitative data that is important to analyze the customers’ satisfaction and the employees’ experience to propose effective strategies for the performance improvement. The factor of timeliness is followed in the Department strictly, and the collected reports for different periods of time are regular to monitor the quality of the customer support in the most efficient manner.

Consistency of the existing performance management system can be discussed as of the middle level. The chosen performance measurement tools are efficient, but there are also areas for the future improvement according to the company’s strategic goals and the industry tendencies. Therefore, the performance management and measurement system that is implemented and followed in the Customer Affairs and Service Audit Department of Emirates can be discussed as rather effective in order to address the company’s goals and objectives regarding the customer satisfaction and loyalty because the system is relevant, rather holistic and consistent, and focused on the aspect of timeliness.

Works Cited

Emirates 2015. Web. 18 Sep. 2015. Web.

Nataraja, Sundaram, and Abdulrahman Al-Aali. “The Exceptional Performance Strategies of Emirate Airlines.” Competitiveness Review: An International Business Journal 21.5 (2011): 471-486. Print.

Parmenter, David. Key Performance Indicators: Developing, Implementing, and Using Winning KPIs. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2015. Print.

The Emirates Group Annual Report 2014-2015 2015. Web.

Appendix A

Organizational Chart of Emirates

Organizational Chart of Emirates (Nataraja and Al-Aali 474).
Figure 1. Organizational Chart of Emirates (Nataraja and Al-Aali 474).

Appendix B

Organizational Chart of Customer Affairs and Service Audit Department

Organizational Chart of Customer Affairs and Service Audit Department.
Figure 2. Organizational Chart of Customer Affairs and Service Audit Department.