Christine Low joined SAS in 1984 when SAS established a separate office independent of Thai Airways International’s office in Singapore. Until that time, Thai Airways had been serving all the passengers flying with SAS from Singapore. Christine was the only new staff employed from outside for the ticketing reservation department while all the rest were former Thai Airways staff.
“I had a background from TWA and Delta Airlines but I had to start from the bottom when I joined SAS,” Christine recalls.
The first one and a half year she was in ticket reservation. Then they gave her a new position as indoor Sales Support for Corporate Customers and Shipping Business.
“Shipping business meant that I had to arrange flights for all the hundreds of seamen who at that time were embarking or disembarking their vessels in different ports of the globe” she explains
That time, in the late 80’s, SAS still operated three weekly non-stop flights to Copenhagen from Singapore. To get a better economy on the route, SAS started flying via Bangkok, but then finally in the spring of 2006, SAS stopped flying to Singapore alltogether.
Unique SAS office in Singapore
Maintaining an SAS office in a city to which the airline does not fly is in itself a unique phenomenon within SAS. But what is equally unique is how the staff at the SAS office in Singapore manages to keep as vibrant as ever.
“Our “secret” is our passion for serving our customers,” says Christine Low.
“Our competitive edge is to be consistently delivering our best service to keep our customers happy and they trust us. Every single one of us is empowered to take initiatives and actions to offer our customers an enjoyable experience with SAS, both on ground and in the air,” she explains.
Christine and her team must be doing a good job, because even though there are far fewer SAS passengers flying from Singapore than from Bangkok, the earnings per passenger is much higher.
When SAS customers fly from Singapore, they typically fly Thai Airways – part of the Star Alliance – up to Bangkok and then SAS the rest of the way. However, when they arrive at the check-in counter in Changi airport, they are met by one of SAS’ three Customer Service Co-coordinators, Christine Ross, Julie or Gabriel.
“They ensure that the experience at the start of the long journey will be as personal and pleasant as possible. If the passenger is one of their loyal EuroBonus Gold members, they will right away recognize the passenger and if possible offer him or her a newspaper in their native language,” Christine tells..
“Sometimes, we ask for what could look like a small favor in return,” Christine adds, revealing one of the secrets behind the seemingly unstoppable energy of the Singapore SAS team.
“We bring a teddy bear to our clients’ office or home when they tell us of a positive experience they have had with SAS. Then we take a Polaroid photo and give to the client – but most importantly, we take one more for ourselves!”
“That photo we bring to office and we pin it up on our “story board”, where we can see it all the time. This board is brimming with photos reminding us of good stories where we did our best and exceeded our clients expectations. Every time we look at these photos, we think of our clients and recharge our energy and get new inspiration to try even harder,” she explains.
Another way which SAS keeps in the center of the Scandinavian community is by arranging Gold Member events or “Pub Nights” twice a year, typically in March/April and again in August/September. These are networking events with our valuable customers and create opportunity for multi-level relationship development. We also launch campaigns and offers during the pubnites.
“This is always a lot of fun – also for the ticketing agents, who we invite along with their clients,” Christine says.
“Selling SAS in Singapore is in a way like selling two airlines,” she adds.
“Because the first leg is on-board another airline – we need to know as much about the policies and regulations of the that first airline on our clients’ journey as we know about the policies and regulations of SAS who will carry them from Bangkok to their final destination in Scandinavia.”
“On top of this, we need to sell through a third person,” she adds.
“All our clients have choice to buy their tickets either via call centre, online or via their regular ticket agency. The secret of maintaining our revenue when customers buy tickets via travel agents is , to make it our business to know our clients well and working very closely with their appointed travel agencies to secure bookings on SAS” she explains.
Although Christine Low is now elevated to a regional manager position, she remains very much the mountain of energy and dedication, that drives the rest of the team in Singapore.
Recently, she co-ordinated the roll-out the airlines’ new SAS Credit program in South East Asia.
“SAS Credits is a smart program because it makes it possible not only for the big companies who fly for more than SGD30,000 per year to open a corporate account with us,” she explains
“SAS Cedits gives also small- and medium-sized companies a similar opportunity to earn special SAS Credits every time they or their staff travel on SAS, Blue1 or Wideroe.”
The concept of the program is very simple. Clients can sign up online on www.flysas.com and immediately after the client has joined the program, he or she will get the code that they then have to use every time they or someone from their company is booking a flight.”
Calculating SAS Credits is also easy. It is calculated as 8% on all travels with any of the SAS Group Airlines – SAS (SK), Wideroe (WF) and Blue1(KF)) – but not on codeshare flights.
Once the client has a minimum level of SAS Credits they can use them when they buy new flights. Partial redemption in combination with credit card payment is also possible when buying tickets online with SAS.”
“You can check the balance online to see if you have enough to use for a new ticket or part of a ticket,” she explains.
The individual travellers within the company stand nothing to loose by the program. While the company receives SAS Credits, the traveler receives EuroBonus points at the same time!
Rolling out the SAS Credits program also gave Christine Low the opportunity to let some of the magic customer touch of her sales staff in Singapore, Yvonne and Gracie, rub off on the sales staff in SAS’ Bangkok ofice and staff at SAS’ agents in Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Taiwan, who are all under Christine’s wings.
“We all share the same passion for exceptional service, but I do understand that in certain places, we cannot copy exactly the way we do it in Singapore,” she adds.