The UAE’s customer service challenge The UAE’s customer service challenge

This study was conducted in order to capture the market’s current perception of customer service in UAE. The respondents come from across all sectors of customer service, from hospitality, banking and retail, to airlines and government, from small and medium companies to large organisations.

Customer service represents a key differentiator in today’s highly competitive market environment. With rising and ever-changing customer expectations, continuous monitoring of customer needs is critical for organisation to remain competitive and deliver on customers’ expectations. An emphasis on customer service is therefore a critical factor to ensure any
organisation’s success and competitiveness.

The 3rd Annual UAE Customer Service Week will be held 30th September to 3rd October in Abu Dhabi.

Market focus:
Due to the complex and varied nature of customer service, this report focuses primarily on the
following areas:

• The perception of customer service in UAE
• The challenges of customer service excellence
• How are companies measuring customer satisfaction
• The main focus points of organisations and the areas that need improvement
• The strategies used to achieve customer satisfaction
Respondents profile
75 % of the persons surveyed work for an organisation that has been established for more than 15 years and has over 500 employees. 17% of respondents come from companies that have between 100-500 employees, with five to ten
years experience on the market, while eight per cent are working in smaller companies that are less than five years old. The surveyed covered all industries, ranging from hospitality, banking, airlines and retail to healthcare and government.

Customer service delivery is seen as mostly average. Half of the people interviewed had an overall average impression of customer service delivery in the GCC, while over a third of the respondents considered it to be good and even excellent. While in general customer service seems to be at least satisfactory, there is still for improvement until customers can be completely satisfied with the services they receive throughout the region.

The top three customer service challenges in the UAE
With an expat population of over 80% in UAE, it comes to no surprise that the most important challenge for customer
service is the mixture of different cultures and nationalities, which create totally different expectations. This could
also be a reason for the little knowledge of customer requirements, which are more difficult to keep track of.
Furthermore, the relatively new implementation of the service culture is an obstacle in ensuring a constant high service.
Employees could also benefit from a more thorough monitoring and management.

Over 83% of companies surveyed support staff training
Staff training plays a crucial role in ensuring a high level of customer service and most companies have understood that
investing into the development of their employees will have a beneficial effect on the end service. Therefore, continuous
training, either internally or through courses, workshops and seminars, is becoming a focus for more and more companies. 650% of companies focus on Customer Satisfaction Strategies. Half of the companies interviewed have found that customer satisfaction strategies are the most important when focusing on customer service. Staff
motivation is also taken into consideration by over a fifth of the companies. However, there is an overall lack of focus on
after-sales or post-service care, as most companies give little importance to a proper follow up, whether is it a feedback or
resolving a complaint. This is evidenced as well by the low priority of customer loyalty, a recurring problem in the
UAE, where customer retention is a challenge.

Organisations need to have a more customer oriented culture
Half of the persons interviewed feel there is a need to develop a more customer-oriented culture in their organisation, where people should come first. This could be done by paying more attention to their needs, dealing with their complaints more
thoroughly and taking their feedback into consideration. On the other hand, comparing performance with other organisations
and investing in innovative technologies and solutions seem less important when improving customer service. But these too help towards a better overall service. Over 90% of the companies have standards to follow With almost all companies having some form of customer service delivery or satisfaction standards in place, there should be a clear way to action for them.
However, it is important that these standards be constantly monitored to ensure that they are maintained and implemented. It is not enough to have guidelines and rules, they must also be enforced and acted upon.
Customer service systems and technologies are crucial
Whether it is a CRM system, a call center or a self-service web application, Customer Service Systems are
very important to keep a constant contact with the clients and ensure that their needs are met not only during the delivery
of the service, but at any time they require assistance. Three quarters of the organisations have either CRM and call centers, while self service has yet to gain more traction within customer service.

• The general perception of customer service in UAE is average, as customers’ high demands are difficult to meet
• The variety of different cultures that interact in UAE is seen as the biggest challenge in Customer Service
• There is a need to develop a more customer oriented culture within organisations
• There should be more focus on customer feedback and resolving complaints to generate loyalty in clients and retain
• The majority of companies understand the importance of training and invest in personal development of employees
• Most organisations have some form of Customer Service Systems or Technologies in place and a staggering majority are
following internal or external standards

Rushika Bhatia Editor

Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.

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