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Tue 16 Oct 2007 12:11 AM

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Poor service plagues Gulf real estate firms

Poor customer service is tarnishing the brands of property developers in the Gulf, a study finds.

Poor customer service is tarnishing the brands of property developers in the Gulf, according to the findings of the third annual Gulf Real Estate Study.

The research, conducted by marketing strategist FutureBrand, found that the region's leading developers are failing to pay attention to simple details like answering the phone professionally and providing marketing material to prospective customers.

The qualitative study involved mystery shoppers making contact with dozens of the Gulf's best-known real estate companies. These companies were judged in four ways: on the quality of their service on the phone and in their sales centres; and on the quality of their salespeople and marketing collateral.

On average, the developers were collectively graded with a D for phone service, a B+ for sales centres, a C for sales people and a C- for marketing collateral.

Mystery shoppers were given a business card at only 28% of sales meetings; they were provided with a full set of marketing collateral at only 12 percent.

Only 4% of developers surveyed received a pass grade in all four criteria.
The report concluded that: "A little consideration would go a long way. Most developers in the region are providing a customer experience that does little more than tarnish their brands."

But if professional customer service is a prerequisite to a successful business, it is not yet showing in the figures of these real estate companies.

Quoting reports from local media during the past 12 months, the report lists 14 notable achievements; among them:

The value of all GCC real estate projects announced in the last year has increased 59 percent to $143 billion.

The value of mortgages in Dubai rose by 170 percent to $11 billion.

Bahrain has recorded 27.4 percent growth in its real estate sector this year, while Qatar and Oman have grown by 10 percent in residential sales.

Real estate is now the fastest growing sector in Saudi Arabia with more than $260 billion in investments announced in the past year.

And even the most expensive city in the GCC, Dubai, remains good value compared to other prestige destinations. A high specification condo next to Dubai International Marine Club costs $663 per square foot, compared to $1,398 in New York and as much as $8,427 for One Hyde Park, one of London's most prestigious developments.

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