In an exclusive interview, Jeevan J D’Mello Chief Customer & Community Officer at Emaar Properties speaks about their focus on customer service excellence and their dedication to deliver seamless service standards throughout the customer journey. He also highlights how customer expectations have shifted in the digital age and how Emaar is transforming as a digital customer-first entity.
Q: Emaar has a strong presence in real estate in UAE and around the world. What are the key customer-centric factors that set you apart from others?
Jeevan J D’Mello: Emaar is a customer-centric organization; we place the customer at the heart of everything we do. Since our inception in 1997, we have focused on delivering master-planned communities that exceed the expectations of our customers. Customer service is an ongoing function at Emaar, and at every point in the customer journey – from sales to after-sales and community living, we place the highest emphasis on meeting their aspirations. We are committed to the highest quality standards, leading to the creation of personal relationships with our customers, ultimately resulting in lifetime trusted bonds.
Q: Do you feel customer expectations differ from region to region in terms of the service they expect?
Jeevan J D’Mello: Customers, anywhere in the world, expect nothing but the best, and we believe that it is our duty and responsibility to meet their expectations. In the UAE, with its multicultural population, and the community’s exposure to international brand experiences, customers expect the best and we are committed to delivering seamless service standards through the customer journey.
Q: Do you think service standards are rapidly changing? If so, how do you measure and stay in sync with the changing standards?
Jeevan J D’Mello: Customers today are empowered and understand their rights. They have access to information at their fingertips, allowing them to compare products and services with other brands, all in a matter of seconds. With several online forums and social networking platforms, they also have access to the feedback of others enabling them to make informed peer-based decisions. Further, today, customer relations are not one-sided with the service providers alone pushing their messages, products and services. They get instant feedback, and there is a constant ‘conversation’ happening that influences brand perceptions.
In today’s changed scenario, the key is to listen to the customers and demonstrate to them that their feedback is being considered with all due respect, and prompt action is taken. Customers expect genuine two-way interaction and a quick response to their queries, and swift redressal of their grievances, if any.
We constantly evaluate the feedback of our customers, engage with them promptly and ensure that their best interests are served. This forms the basis of our customer-centricity, and in this, we leverage the latest digital technologies. In fact, across Emaar, we are transforming as a digital customer-first entity and this has given us an edge in engaging with our customers more meaningfully and efficiently.
Q: How is Emaar implementing and utilizing the latest technologies and smart services in order to provide a better Customer Experience?
Jeevan J D’Mello: As part of our organisation-wide digital transformation, we are leveraging the latest technologies to engage with our customers. Among key examples, we have launched a ‘way-finder’ mobile app for The Dubai Mall that guides customers across the mall and provides specific directions to stores, restaurants and even seating areas.
We also provide a number of property services through mobile apps that enhance the customer journey. We have installed free Wi-Fi service across all our Emaar assets, and have self-service digital platforms at our customer service offices. We are continuously evaluating new ways to digitally interact with our customers, and to make their experience quick, easy, memorable and reliable.
Q: Do you offer customer service and support in multiple languages catering to your diverse customer base?
Jeevan J D’Mello: Absolutely, we make sure that our customer-interacting team delivers the highest standards of service; we have a multicultural team of customer service professionals, who speak most languages that are prevalent in the region.
Q: Do you conduct trainings for your customer service staff and what areas do you focus on?
Jeevan J D’Mello: We enable our people to build professional careers and in this, training and mentoring are a key part of their all-round development. I personally conduct induction for all new members of the customer-interacting team to ensure they understand our brand and values, and let them know firsthand about how important our customers are for us. Every member of the team has a specific training schedule and development plan to ensure they are prepared to deliver the best customer service. Empowering them with tools for first time resolution, recognising them through monthly Great Customer Service Rewards and mentoring them not only make them better at what they do, but also make them feel valued and cared for. We understand that happy employees make happy customers.
Q: What are your feedback processes to measure customer satisfaction?
Jeevan J D’Mello: While we have automated surveys that are sent to our customers every time we complete a service for them and periodic surveys to measure customer satisfaction, we go above and beyond what is generally considered customer satisfaction measurement. Our Senior Management team personally calls several customers every week to get a direct and personal view of their opinions. This practice communicates a clear message to our customers on how important they are for us.
We also have a strong feedback collection framework, which has been established across Emaar’s services and through all interacting channels. Our ‘We Care’ platform, freely available to our customers in our main portals/websites, provide feedback and suggestions to us upon which we respond and reassure them.
Every complaint and suggestion is important to us and our Customer Excellence team carefully analyses every comment to revert with a solution in the shortest period of time. Some of this feedback is often transformed into initiatives to improve and innovate the manner in which we interact with our customers.
Q: How do you use social media to engage your audience and strengthen brand image?
Jeevan J D’Mello: Social media is a very important channel in this region and for us. We strive to have engaging conversations with the people who interact with us through these channels. Social media is an excellent platform for us to listen to people who are getting in touch with our brand for any type of feedback
Q: What services and features do you plan to introduce in the coming year to further enrich customer satisfaction?
Jeevan J D’Mello: As the market and our customers’ needs evolve, we are working on a number of innovative initiatives to create a stronger and more trusted relationship with them. We are focused on developing tailor-made end-to-end customer journey experiences that will ensure that every customer receives great service at every stage, but also have a clear idea of where they are in the journey and how we can proactively serve them while responding to them quickly when they need our support.
About Jeevan J D’Mello
Professionally trained as an Architect, Jeevan has extensive international experience in Architecture, Project Management, Customer Service and Community Management.
Jeevan joined Emaar Properties in 2002 to set up the company’s customer-facing divisions, and subsequently handed over the first freehold property in Dubai. He was instrumental in setting up Emaar’s first freehold property handover division as well as the award-winning Community Management division.
A RERA-authorised lecturer at the Dubai Real Estate Institute, Jeevan is recognised as the pioneer of the community management industry in Dubai. He is the first Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) in the region and the first Association Management Specialist (AMS) certified by the US-based Community Associations Institute for the region.
In 2012, he became one of the first international Professional Community Association Managers (PCAM) and the first international Large Scale Manager (LSM). In 2011, he received the Institute’s ‘Rising Star Award’ and in 2014 the prestigious ‘President’s Award’ in the USA.
Currently, Jeevan serves his second 3-year term on the US-based Community Managers International Certification Board. He is the inaugural President of the Community Association Institute – Middle East Chapter, licensed by Dubai Chamber.
As Chief Customer & Community Officer, Jeevan looks after all of Emaar’s valued customers and manages its entire portfolio of master planned communities in Dubai.