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Sat 10 Jan 2009 06:57 AM

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Customer service 'key to survival during crisis'

Region needs to focus on improving relationship with customer - expert.

A research company has called on Gulf companies to make customer service their number one priority to help them survive during the ongoing global economic meltdown.

Bosses at business development and training company Joshua, which is soon to release its second survey on customer service ratings in the region, said it will become a key factor for firms amid increased competition.

Ruth Field, vice president, Middle East, said: “At present, media outlets all over the world are focusing on stories of job losses and financial instability as companies enter into crisis management mode.

"If current events mean a return to basics for centres like Dubai then excellent customer service is going to become a key factor during times of increased competitiveness."

Joshua's first survey in early 2008 revealed some alarming trends in the region, indicating that at best companies in cities such as Dubai only achieved an average rating, and in some areas, for example taking ownership of an issue and anticipating future needs, fell well below international standards.

Field added: "Less than six months ago it was a case of 'build and they will come', Dubai was a land of endless opportunity, with the population growing at an unprecedented rate.

"Although we believe Dubai, and the GCC, will be better placed than most to weather the current storm, we also believe the concept of excellent customer service will become more important than ever.

"Therefore a shift is needed towards a 'build and give them a good reason to come' strategy, which Dubai has historically been successful at prior to the unprecedented growth of the past three to five years."

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