We are living in an instinctively social and collaborative world, where the speed of change has accelerated to the point that consumer preferences seem to change overnight. It doesn’t matter what business you have opted, or how stronger your financial market position is, if your business is not aiming at customer’s interests, then you have no brighter prospective ahead.
Recent technology driven era demands UAE business industries to maintain and advance their market position, by harnessing new ideas and empowering consumer’s quickly. Experts, who are at the forefront of the ‘4th Annual UAE Customer Service Week’ (30th September to 2nd October, 2013) says:
‘UAE has a great potential to excel in the area of customer service and becoming a customer service leader’.
Evolving trends in technology can be observed in both the private and public sectors of UAE. UAE business industries are rapidly investing in new tools and techniques, using technology as a key to improve customer service quality and consumer satisfaction in an efficient and cost effective way. United Arab Emirates is classified as the only leading Arab country having an innovation-driven economy, by the ‘World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013’, where UAE is ranked 24th out of 144th globally in adopting enhanced customer service innovative competitiveness.
Giving a media briefing to Arabian Business, Abdullah Lootah, The Secretary General, Emirates Competitiveness Council said:
‘The UAE’s ability to secure an advanced ranking, regionally and globally, with respect to the quality of infrastructure, the government’s provision of high technology products and other variables, is a result of the UAE government’s commitment to the development of infrastructure and building new economic sectors based on innovation.’
According to the findings of ‘Third Annual GE Global Innovation Barometer Survey Report (25th February 2013)’, it was revealed that 89% of UAE businesses regard innovation, marked by improvement of products and services, as a strategic priority to help drive business growth.
Considering technology as a driver for growth, survey statistics revealed that:
o 81% of the UAE respondents appreciated adopting innovative IT strategies and customer-centric optimized technology solutions needed by businesses to progress successfully.
o Respondents said that developing new technology (70%), creating an environment conducive to innovation (69%), and continuous monitoring of ever-changing customer’s expectations to improve products or services (62%), are the key abilities businesses have to master to innovate successfully.
As the business market of the world is growing rapidly creating huge competition, the primary differentiating factor is quality of customer services. Owing to the need of time, Emirates has maintained best customer service programs to facilitate its customers.
With growing advancements in IT, customer service infrastructure has changed significantly over time. Nowadays, customers are far more powerful and not hesitant to complain. They can instantly share their point of view about different services or products through social media like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, instant messaging, video conferencing and web meetings. Thus each company is trying to develop its communities on various social networks to analyze their progress and deficiencies, in terms of customer service quality and clients satisfaction.
In year 2012, a survey study titled, ‘The UAE’s Customer Service Challenge’, was conducted to capture the market’s current perception of customer service in UAE. The survey covered all industries ranging from hospitality, banking, retail, airlines, IT, government bodies, to SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) and large business organizations.
The key dimensions examined were:
o The perception of customer service in UAE.
o The challenges of customer service excellence.
o How are companies measuring customer satisfaction?
o How crucial role the technology plays to achieve customer satisfaction?
The survey results revealed that almost 90% of the respondents believed to have a customer oriented culture in business organizations, and to invest in innovative technologies and solutions to achieve a better overall service.
UAE business industries are constantly adopting technological solutions that can help them to maintain higher standards of customer services delivery and satisfaction. However, it is important that these standards be constantly monitored to ensure that they are maintained and implemented.
Today, companies have new technologies to enhance the experience, from social media platforms (that celebrate customers who promote your business) to data mining tools (that help target your customers, and help keep them coming through the doors for years to come). It is only through the use of technology that companies create clarity and an actionable path for driving the ‘customer focus’ commitment into business operations.
Be it a customer-centric IT solution in the form of ICT applications or CRM systems, or a customer care center or self-service web application, technology driven customer service practices and innovative strategies are highly important to keep a constant contact with the clients and ensure that their needs are met. Delivering enhanced customer experience and bringing timely up-gradations in your products and services is highly crucial in establishing prospective customer relationships.
(June 2013 – Middle East Customer Experience Survey)
Recently, a survey study was conducted by Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. to assess the performance of regional companies across the Middle East, in terms of implementing customer service experience strategies and technologies.
According to Shaheen Haque, the Territory Manager, Middle East and Turkey:
‘The purpose of conducting above survey study was to understand that how prepared Middle East organizations are to deliver customer service excellence and what channels and technologies are being used for service delivery?’
He further emphasized that:
‘Survey findings will enable us to educate regional companies as to where the gaps exist and how they can increase customer loyalty and grow their business through better service and better customer experience.’
The survey was set out to determine:
o What role customer service experience plays in an organization?
o How well organizations are prepared to deliver customer service excellence?
o What channels and technologies they are using for service delivery?
Majority of the respondents were from ‘Technology Organizations’ i.e. 35.3%, while ‘Manufacturing’, ‘Banking & Financial Services’, and ‘Business Services’ accounted for 11.8% each. The respondents were specifically chosen from the ‘IT Department’ (46.3%), ‘Customer Service’ (18.2%), and ‘Sales and Marketing Department’ (16.5%).
According to the survey findings, 96.7% of the Middle East regional organizations consider customer service a crucial factor to achieve a better overall service in businesses, while, the increasingly emerging role of technological interventions to improve customer experiences accounts for 33.1%.
The channels and technologies used for enhanced service delivery and customer satisfaction are shown below. It is clearly obvious that information technology plays a significant role in establishing prospective customer relationships, as the level of technology integration across customer service touch points is almost 84%.
Survey results indicated that majority companies tend to use a combination of metrics to measure the success of their customer service campaigns. Of these, the most popular methods are:
o Customer Feedback Forms (57.9%)
o Customer Satisfaction Score or CSAT (43%)
o Voice of the Customer (VoC) Programs
o Customer Effort Scores (CES) (less than 15%)
Business organizations also use a combination of technologies to support customer service. These include:
o Customer Relationship Management (70.2%)
o Customer Feedback Tools (52.9%)
o Call & Voice recording (35.5%)
o Social Media Analytics/Monitoring (38.8%)
o Computer Telephony Integration or CTI (33.9%)
The above mentioned survey findings are sufficient to give a valuable insight of technology penetration into customer service strategies and service delivery quality.
UAE, being a leader in innovation, understands the global requirement to create an environment that promotes and stimulates innovation. Therefore, it welcomes the challenge of being internationally competitive. UAE Government and private business organizations are continuously adopting and upgrading their customer service tools and techniques. The public and private sectors are working in parallel for innovations across all the sectors, in order to achieve superior service delivery and to deliver enhanced customer experience.
Although, technology provides many advantages to customer service and can improve the customer experience, but at times, technology can create a negative customer experience. UAE has been a regional leader of innovative development plans, however, there is no assurance that this success will continue.
A major forthcoming challenge for the UAE’s business organizations is to ensure that their technological interventions are maintained and implemented effectively. Companies should make the best use of new technologies, but also search out additional ways to increase productivity.
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