Customer service expert Ron Kaufman has made a career out of advising companies big and small, from solo entrepreneurs and what he calls ‘mom and pop companies’ to multinationals and governments. The American expert, who is based in Singapore, has written a New York Times best-selling book, Uplifting Service, and claims to have success stories pouring in from all over the world. This month, he brings his tools to Dubai, hosting a seminar on service leadership, which he explains is open to anyone who wants to learn how to create an uplifting service experience for their customers.
When we speak, he’s just wrapped up a workshop for Mashreq employees (which could bode well for anyone currently in the market for a new bank). ‘Dubai is competing with every other major metropolitan city on the planet, because people have more choice than ever about where to go, where to stay, where to shop… In a world where you can go online in an instant, why should you walk down the street?’ he says.
He notes that in two decades visiting the city, he has had many great and not-so-great service experiences of his own. ‘My worst experiences in Dubai have to do with people who don’t really care what you’re concerned about. All they’re doing is the minimum to be able to say “I did my job”. That’s a horrific experience to anyone, anywhere in the world, and unfortunately there is still a lot of that in Dubai,’ he explains. ‘My best experiences have been with individuals who understand what I want, and what I need, and will work with their colleagues to make it happen. That’s always a delight. It shows they are part of a real service team, a service culture.’
When it comes to alerting someone to a problem with the service, he notes that the reason many people may be dissatisfied with the response is because they’ve gone about raising their complaint in the wrong way. If you’re experiencing that familiar surge of rage after a bad experience at a restaurant, hotel or even while simply trying to post a birthday card overseas, it can be tempting to jump straight on social media to vent your fury and provide the service provider with some feedback, otherwise known as a piece of your mind. Kaufman says stop right there. ‘A big part of it is how you complain. If you go to the service provider and say, “Hi, I am one of your loyal customers, and I want to continue to be, would you please help me?” that’s a totally different person to take care of,’ he explains. As for the service providers, it’s important to recognise a complaint for what it is. ‘Companies need to understand that in today’s world, a customer with a complaint is demonstrating their loyalty. Anyone who comes straight to you has already made the decision not to go viral.’
And when you do finally get through to someone, Kaufman says keep your cool. ‘We’re all human beings, including the person who’s going to make the decision about who actually gets that extra service, or well taken care of.’
Tickets Dhs2,000 each; Dhs1,800 per person for groups of five, Dhs1,600 per person for groups of ten. Tuesday April 16, 9am-5pm. Shangri-La Dubai, www.rightselection.com.
Consumer rights: the lowdown
There are many laws and directives drafted by the Department of Economic Development to help protect consumers in the UAE. Here are a few to remember…
• Individual stores may have different exchange and refund policies – this is allowed as long as the policy is clearly marked on the receipt of your purchase or at the point of sale counter.
• In terms of services, you are protected by the consumer law if a service is not carried out as agreed in writing. At this point, you have the right to a remedy from the provider, to which they should either agree to provide the service again, or provide a refund if this is again carried out unsatisfactorily (it’s unspecified whether this has to be in cash or as a credit note).
• If a product is displayed at a certain price, but the price comes up higher at the checkout, you should only pay the displayed price. This does not apply where the wrong product description is also given on the tag – it must be for the exact same item.
• When delivery of a product is arranged by a retailer, it is the retailer’s responsibility to make sure that product arrives in good condition. Always inspect your goods before signing the delivery note.
• Not all of your online shopping will be covered. Consumer rights issued by the DED only apply to businesses licensed and based in Dubai, not overseas.
Source: Dubai Department of Economic Development.