The value of goodwill hunting

The value of goodwill hunting

The recent report that DBS has overtaken Singapore Airlines (SIA) as the country's most valuable brand will be seen as a big feather in the banking group's cap.

To knock one of Singapore's best-known - and most glamorous - global names off its perch is no mean feat.

Still, what caught my attention was not DBS' success in building up its brand name and earning customers' trust, but a stark warning made by Brand Finance about SIA.

The London-based consultancy said: "Singapore Airlines runs the risk of losing its No. 2 position next year unless some significant efforts are undertaken to grow the value of the brand."

This is ironic: SIA's fortunes seem to be slipping, yet for decades it was the gold standard for pre- mium service against which other local firms were measured.

Five years ago, I wrote in this column that banks should make it a point to learn from SIA on how they can offer a more personal touch to attract customers.

The basis of my suggestion was that bank relationship managers were often badly trained and sometimes offered the wrong investment advice as their objective was to meet sales targets and earn commissions.

To illustrate the great service provided by SIA, I cited the example of a friend who was allowed to switch his return flight from Tokyo to Nagoya by an airline representative in Japan even though his travel agent here had said it was impossible because he was on a budget ticket.

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