From conked out email addresses to laggard responses, the first phase of “secret shopper” programme revealed a lot of discrepancies in the customer service provided by Abu Dhabi’s government entities.  The aim of this initiative is to evaluate the standard and quality of customer service, however, not many segments have been fully able to come up to the expectations so far.

The programme was launched by the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi in May and has involved 31 government agencies in Abu Dhabi City, Al Ain and Al Gharbia until now. According to Yasir Ahmad Al Naqbi, director of the Abu Dhabi Excellence Programme at the General Secretariat of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi, undercover inspections that involve intensive visits and regular reports concerning the quality of services delivered by the Abu Dhabi government are all a part of it. The initial project involved interviewing 45,000 government employees and 18,400 customers about the state of 97 government services through questionnaires. It would be a “qualitative addition” to an existing customer experience assessment project involving 49 government agencies across the emirate, he said at the launch of the programme. He also referred to it as “the most important stage” in the customer experience assessment project that will allow a clear and profound awareness of customers’ expectations, opinions and satisfaction through the evaluation of 70 core government services.

The Executive Council revealed on Tuesday that after examining the entities in five sectors i.e. economic development, government excellence, community development, infrastructure and the environment, and human development, major discrepancies were reported by the inspectors regarding the way government employees dealt with customers and their efficiency in responding to the requests. Other flaws included lack of proper advertisement for accessing services, hard to navigate websites, out of use email addresses, employees’ lack of information about fees or schedules, presence of outdated or difference of information between websites and another medium.

Sultan Karrani, who is an Abu Dhabi ambassador and official tour guide in the Emirate, said that the programme was brilliant idea particularly because Abu Dhabi is very important on the international front and is going head to head with other cities worldwide. “Not knowing these auditors, or these people who are looking to the departments, will give excellent results in the long term. The services should be equal to or above the services around the world.”He also emphasised on the significance of customer satisfaction and, in this context, the importance of understanding people’s likes and dislikes.

However, Mr. Al Naqbi said that the main aim of this programme is to discover inconsistent areas, without ruling out the encouragement for high-performing entities so that the government services advance in accordance with Abu Dhabi’s priorities. Keeping in view the regional and international status of Abu Dhabi, although in its developing phase but customer service certainly is a main concern, he added.