By Andy Sambidge
Andy Sambidge on why competition in the UAE telco sector should usher in a revolution in customer services.
Anyone with an interest in the activities of UAE telcos Etisalat and du will tell you that their customer service levels generally leave a lot to be desired.
Either you are left hanging on the telephone for what feels like hours and then cut off (how ironic is that?) or you are told someone will call you back and they never do.
A quick check on the Arabian Business comments board confirms that most stories about either company usually turn into a rant from readers about their experiences of poor customer service.
But that is all about to change as the UAE's telecoms watchdog prepares to give the green light on liberalising the sector.
This will give customers the choice of operator rather than being constrained by the location of your home.
More importantly these companies, which have enjoyed an easy ride over the past few years in growing their customer base, are going to have to fight for future business.
So this should be good news for you and I. This should mean that both will be going all out for your business.
The charm offensive has already begun at du. They issued at SMS on Monday night apologising for a recent TV blackout and offering customers free access to its Unlimited Video on Demand service until September 30 by way of compensation.
Can anyone remember a gesture like this in the past?
So to help everyone in their choice of operator once the telecoms sector is properly opened up, here's a checklist of what you should be able to expect from your supplier.
1. Discounted rates for mobile, fixed lines, TV and internet services [with further discounts for services like 3D TV].
2. Compensation packages for technical difficulties resulting in the loss of any of the above.
3. A special helpline staffed by efficient staff who do what they say they will do.
4. Introductory offers giving further discounts on the already discounted tariffs.
5. Free car with every new subscription.
Ok, so the last one is expecting a little too much but in theory the changing landscape in the telecoms industry should usher in a revolution in customer services in the UAE.
No longer will these companies be able to treat their customers badly and expect to get away with it.
Customer service will now have to be central to both companies' business plan going forward - if they don't, they will suffer an exodus of customers.
In the future, Etisalat and du should know that it doesn't really matter what services you offer (especially as both will be very similar), it is how you deliver them that matters.
And who knows, the new efficient, friendly face of Etisalat and du might just spread to other sectors in desperate need of a customer relations overhaul.
Great Article my friend. However, Etisalat and DU will never step up to better customer service as they are the ONLY two telecom providers. If you want these companies to improve on their extremely poor CS levels, you need to allow more competition. At least one more provider. Etisalat has made my life horrible. I just think they are lucky to be the only provider in certain areas. They are poorly poor.
I have heard all this talk before. I recall going to a presentation at DIC with Mr Osman Sultan from Du before Du was launched. Apparently having a new telco was going to revolutionize telecoms in the UAE. Fast forward 4 years or so and today my company internet is cut off AGAIN without warning. Second time this year. Greeeat. Du make you sign a form with your CC details which states quite clearly that you authorize them to bill you card every month for the full invoice amount. Only it is a waste of time because THEY CANNOT DO IT! I even emailed them the form 5 days ago AGAIN as requested, but it doesn't help - they just don't bill my card again then cut me off without warning. And so I call 391000 and an automated voice tells me "we are experiencing high call volume" - after 15 mins I give up and go to the Du office at Media City. It's packed and yet only about 20% of the staff desks are occupied by staff. It's like they are all on holiday. Worse still, after selecting 'quick payment' and waiting 20 mins with no movement, I enquire of the gentleman at the door who tells me that "the system is down, only one desk for business is working, you'll have to wait hours". So I head to the Du office at Battuta Mall, select 'Enterprise' and 'Quick Payment' and get a ticket. I am called to the desk immediately. I am then told that mine is a company account. "Yes, that is what Enterprise means, that's why I selected it on my ticket". Apparently they cannot help me, I need to go to Media City. "But the Media City office is broken, only one machine active". The guy calls his supervisor who denies this can be the case because he apparently knows the status of everything and someone from Media City would have called him if they were having problems. So I have a company with no internet, the phone lines to Du are jammed, they don't respond to emails, the system at the Media City office is broken and other Du offices cannot help me. Dubai Internet City - where you have to rely on one state telco provider that costs 5 times as much as a European provider and has a service level that makes North Korea look good. This is Dubai's big plan to rescue its economy? Gulp. Things are going to get much, much worse.
nice idea in theory. but ask yourself, how many banks operate in dubai ? here is a market with free competition which you would expect to behave as the author of the article expects..... "No longer will these companies be able to treat their customers badly and expect to get away with it. Customer service will now have to be central to (both) companies' business plan going forward - if they don't, they will suffer an exodus of customers." however, mention any bank by name and you are greeted with howls, wailing and gnashing of teeth by irate customers over incompetant staff, excessive and/or hidden fees, deception, and general awfulness. why should the telcon sector be any different?
is what is needed. in third world countries, telcos tolerate skype, YM's call, etc., because they can still make a decent profit from their products and services, and keep their stockholders and customers happy. companies can be profit-driven and prosper. but if greed drives it, it's not going to be healthy in the long run because greed is a beast that eats its own tail and everything attached to it. -- langyaw