Flagging recurring public grievances about ‘unprofessional behaviour’ of Air India staff, a government-commissioned study has suggested their performance evaluation be linked to customer feedback, on-time reporting for flights and other parameters. The study cited “outdated HR policy” and third-party staffing as among key reasons for poor customer service at the loss-making airline, while it has also called for incentives like monthly awards for employees to reduce the number of public grievances. It was conducted by the Quality Council of India for the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, following recommendations of a parliamentary committee. A total of 20 ministries/departments were selected for the study based on the number of grievances received by them from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2016 through the Centralised Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) — an online system for filing of complaints. The study was released by Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh on Friday. It involved identification of top grievance categories and recommendations for systemic reforms.
For the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), the study analysed 4,415 grievances (out of total 12,448 received during the period under review). Of these, the maximum were against the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which accounted for 32 per cent (1,429) of grievances received. Another 31 per cent (1,365) of grievances were received by Air India Ltd and 29 per cent (1,262) were against Airports Authority of India. “For MoCA, the most recurring issue accounting for 31 per cent of grievances was that of Air India related services, followed by airport infrastructure which accounted for another 18 per cent of the grievances. “This was followed by grievances related to employment and relevant education, travel rules and malpractices accounting for 10 per cent, 9 per cent and 8 per cent respectively,” the study said.
The grievances against Air India included poor customer service and unprofessional behaviour from the staff, delay in flights causing missing of connecting flights, misplaced baggage and poor response from the staff, no intimation of flight delay or cancellation and no refund on cancelled flights, the report said. It suggested systemic reforms like “employee performance evaluation on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like on time reporting for the flight, customer feedback, complaints against them, as also incentivising staff through awards (Employee of the Month)/monetary perks”. The maximum airport-related grievances included poor capacity at some international and domestic airports, poor infrastructure quality, as also congestion at check-in facilities, security checks and immigration counters. Other grievances received by the ministry were about baggage allowance, convenience fee, ticket pricing, airport services and travel rules. In its grievance analysis, the study also flagged cases of repeated cancellations, rejection of refund requests and baggage thefts.
For poor customer service, the report said the root causes include “lack of ownership due to third-party staffing, outdated HR policy, poor customer service offered due to no accountability in the operational model and lack of feedback and monitoring causing non-cooperative and unprofessional behaviour of the staff”. The airport infrastructure issues flagged by the study included improper construction fixtures leading to accidents, insufficient number of X-ray scanners, poor staff allocation during peak hours, inadequate staffing at counters and manual intervention at multiple points. The study covered grievances received by 20 ministries/departments, out of which the highest number of 18,567 grievances were related to the information and broadcasting ministry. Besides, 17,840 grievances were related to the Department of Financial Services (Insurance Division), 17,323 against the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and 17,084 against the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.