All smiles for Dragon Air

  “Will we ever fly Dragon Air again”? I asked myself. “A resounding Yes”, I told myself many times, “whenever we have the slightest opportunity and perhaps, forever”!

This seems like a rather emotional declaration of commitment. Sure it is, when you have experienced what my family had experienced with this wonderful airline.
I have this vacation story to share. Although it is really ordinary, it speaks so much about this airline. It will be really an injustice if I did not write about this to give our salutation to Dragon Air, and to give some valuable insights to all tourism-related organizations of what delivering excellent customer service is all about.

My family and I got back to Kuala Lumpur from our 2 weeks vacation trips to China and Hong Kong. Two days later after stepping back home, we then realized the shopping bag containing a couple of T-shirts my son and I bought at the tempting shops of Hong Kong airport was not with us!

My wife and I tried to recall how this could have happened. Thanks to her good memory (as usual) we managed to trace the chain of events that took place.

We bought them at Hong Kong airport before boarding our flight on Dragon Air to Xiamen, the last leg of our holiday. With no time to put it into our hand carry bag, this shopping bag was pushed in between the many other bags in the overhead compartment. When we touched down at Xiamen airport, we had entirely forgotten that we had an extra bag to take along. We spent 10 days in Xiamen, and at no material time did we realize that this shopping bag was not with us.

What it means is we only made this shocking discovery more than 10 days later! For a while, we were resigned to the fact we had to bite the bullet for our carelessness. Negative self-talks ran inside us which ranged from: ‘who would be so kind to keep this for us, maybe it dropped off, other passengers (or the flight crew members) may have taken them, the airline wouldn’t be bothered to ‘just forget it’.’

At times of crisis like this one, being a corporate coach helps. Thanks to our training that we must be consistently positive and always have hope, we tried our luck. I suggested we should contact the airline, and delegated this task to my wife, Angeline. Not terribly convinced and half heartedly, she wrote an email to Dragon Air’s Customer Service Department to explain the case with details of the flight and shopping bag.

Within 24 hours, Dragon Air shot back an email to us with a scanned photo of the bag for our verification. We said yes. A call from Hong Kong followed from a very well-mannered and professional customer service officer who gave us instructions on how we could pick up it up at KLIA Airport. From our first email to finally collecting it, the process took 5 days in a very seamless and professional execution of customer service delivery that we will always remember.

In the eyes of Dragon Air, this simple ‘shopping bag’ case could have been a small routine act of customer service for an ordinary customer. But to me, it speaks volumes of an organization that does not just talk about ‘customer is first’ but put it in action

The truth is all companies talk about providing customer service excellence. Unfortunately, very few live up to this. When comes to the crunch, whether it is about appealing for a refund, requesting for a replacement, or even asking for more information, we are often met with stares, sulky looks and rude talking front liners who make things very difficult. In many cases, the customers are disappointed.

In reality, there is no evidence of good customer service until and unless the organization is put though a test. This is where the ‘rubber hits the road’ and the truth will prevail. So organizations that are sincere about delivering customer service excellence must really put their acts together to serve their customers in good and ‘bad’ times. This will make it imperative that their people are constantly been trained to fire up their passion to serve, to building a seamless customer service delivery system that will promote their brand names in good and bad times.

Dragon Air is doing this all the time. So now you know why we will want to fly Dragon Air again, and forever!

Do you have a similar heart-warming experience to share with me and other readers? Click on “Comment” to post your story.


Being a corporate coach, it is common for me to get all sorts of requests from client organizations to help them boost their people’s performance. I remember one request asking me to coach their people to smile more!!!

I was very curious. So I asked the CEO on why he wanted to have such a program. He answered, with frustration in his eyes, “They are turning away customers with their sour and unfriendly looks and remarks”. Of course, my next logical question was, “Why don’t they smile”? He responded awkwardly and quickly gave a barrage of reasons, ranging from “I don’t know”, “Maybe they have bad attitude” or “Maybe they are in the wrong job”, etc.

Not satisfied with the answers given, I asked for his permission to do a quick tour of the workplace where I got a good snapshot of the office environment, observed a few characters, eavesdropped a few conversations and even got to talk to a few “reluctant” and unfriendly ones.

People do not need to be literally taught how to smile because we naturally know how to do it. We are all born with very fine qualities and smiling is among the first behavior that we learned. We smiled when our parents tickled us, played with us or gave us a toy. So why should adult people go through a “how-to-smile” program now? It does not make sense.

After this, I had a heart-to-heart talk with the CEO. Here’s an extract of what we discussed.  The conclusion is that the people in the company are not happy. Bad service usually starts with an unsmiling staff. In tourism, an unsmiling company is a sin! It is the most basic requirement a customer will expect when they walk into a company to buy a holiday package. Imagine when you are faced with unsmiling staff; I am sure these thoughts will pop up in your mind; “How can I ever have a good holiday with them?” “How can they take care of me when they are so cold to me now even before I step into the plane, etc?” 

Tourism entrepreneurs should always find ways to make their people work happily in their companies. Remember, working in this industry is highly demanding: work pace is fast, changes are rapid, competition is stiff, working hours are long; workload is heavy and endless, etc.

How will you know if they are happy? The best indicator is: how often do the staff smile?  When this is present, then there is a high chance that they are serving the customers well. There is fun in the work place, even laughing off to lighten a complaint, and relationship and teamwork among staff is good for they go out for lunches and dinners together or occasional karaoke session to sing their blues away!

Creating a happy working environment is not simply a human resource initiative but a crucial business strategy and a very important one too. As air fares are common rated now with no one getting preferential treatment, and when every customer knows what they are paying for, there is only one way to compete: SERVICE!

How do you do it? Pay close attention to your people as much as you do to your customers. They are also humans and they too have needs and emotions like the customers. Stay close to them to know how they are doing. Get information from the grapevine; talk to a few “anchor” staff about the goings-on and they can tell you a lot of things. Act on them fast, before they turn ugly. Most of all, you become the role model of a smiling and friendly company by showing it in everything you do. This is the best way to inspire your people.

Back to this “how-to-smile” assignment from this company, did I get it? Oh yes, and more than that. We are in a long term partnership to make their company a healthy and happy one.

What’s your experience with companies whose staff smile a lot? And those whose staff don’t smile much? You can add a comment to this blog by clicking on the Post Comment button. I would really like to hear your story!