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Microsoft founder Bill Gates once said: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” It’s the main reason why companies value customer feedback. Such input helps improve services, and encourages a more tailored approach on the part of organisations, in order to meet and exceed customer expectations. Many even change their strategy to retain loyal customers and attract new ones — and in business, adapting and improving is necessary to not just stay afloat but to move upward.

However, often, customers are not heard by company management, due to lack of proper channels or issues at different levels. As a last resort, some complainants seek to end the hassle of going back and forth from the service provider’s premises to sort out their issues.

This is where Gulf News bridges the gap. With the newspaper, readers have a platform to voice their concerns or grievances. We evaluate the complaint, and then take the matter to the relevant service-based organisation for a quick resolution. These unhappy customers are turned into satisfied clientele as soon as their issues are addressed by the management and eventually resolved.

It is time to highlight the outstanding contribution of these companies. Gulf News is proud to announce their names, by ranking them according to their customer service. The top three organisations have offered their full attention and cooperation towards the satisfaction of our readers.

These companies have processed Gulf News’ reader complaints from January to June, 2014. We have ranked them based on their speed of redressal, transparency of process, satisfaction of the complainant and cooperation on the complaint process with Gulf News.

Gulf News interviewed the top three companies in pursuit of customer service excellence.


Gulf News: How do you handle your customers’ complaints efficiently?


Mr Kuldeep Chouhan, Head of Group Customer Experience, Emirates NBD: Our complaint handling process is very simple yet effective. We acknowledge the complaint with an assurance that we give our utmost attention to resolve it at the earliest and keep our customer always updated throughout the complaint progress till the final resolution. We also ensure that we investigate the root causes of each complaint and implement the remedial actions accordingly to avoid recurrence of the same in future.


Mr Ambar Brahmachary, Head of Marketing and Customer Experience, Mashreq: At Mashreq, we put empathy over efficiency; we believe that the only way to deal with customer complaints is to put ourselves in her/his shoes. We try to address not only the cause of the complaints but the feelings of the customer. To do this, we need to listen carefully and patiently to them. It is from this act of active listening that we begin to understand not just the complaint but the customer’s feelings. Listening and understanding creates empathy and this helps our team to resolve the problem effectively. We do have some of our best, most patient and brightest officers attending to this vital function and they take it upon themselves to please our clients by resolving the problems as speedily as possible. We have noticed that most customers begin to feel relaxed once we have extended our sincere apology and clarified the cause of their concern. Finding the appropriate solution that meets their expectations is an easy next step. Our customer service helps monitor and ensure that our brand promise is always delivered. Our team has evolved a shorthand for this process and they call it ‘LEARN’: Listen carefully, empathise, apologise genuinely, respond and now (do not delay).


Ms Sabrina Couto, Head of Service Quality, RAKBANK: The service culture in RAKBANK keeps the customer at the core of our business. This value is embedded at all levels of the organisation and hence any concern raised by the customer is handled with the utmost gravity and sensitivity. Our dedicated staff takes ownership of the customer’s complaint, investigates the concerns, and appraises the customer of the status and resolution. The cycle of complaint resolution is completed with all gaps bridged, processes refined and training reinforced.


Gulf News: Do you think all complaints should be published with a clear resolution?


Mr Chouhan, Emirates NBD: We believe that complaints are opportunities to educate our customers by clearly explaining the rationale behind our decision and how they can avoid such situations in the future, as well as helping us identify and correct any service shortfalls at our end. Therefore, publishing complaints with a clear resolution is favourable, as long as we are not disclosing customers’ financial details.


Mr Brahmachary, Mashreq: Absolutely. Transparency is our core value and we follow it to the tee. Every complaint is evaluated individually on its own merit and without any prejudice, in a fair and transparent manner. The resolution is also communicated by our Customer Care unit in a clear and concise way, explaining the bank’s stance even if it means declining the request. It helps us win customer trust and build healthier customer relationships. We firmly believe that complaints help us continue to improve our services.


Ms Couto, RAKBANK: We agree that it is important to publish the complaint resolution for customers to be aware of the Bank’s stance. However, to protect the customer’s confidentiality, we communicate only relevant details on a public forum and all other information directly with the customer. Further, information about our products and services is provided to the customer at the time of onboarding and is also published on our website, www.rakbank.ae.


Gulf News: What is the main impact of customers’ feedback to your organisation?


Mr Chouhan, Emirates NBD: At Emirates NBD, we value our customers’ feedback and take it as an opportunity to improve our products and services. As a process, we capture each feedback received and implement the same, based on feasibility.


Mr Brahmachary, Mashreq: Customer needs and dreams drive our brand proposition. Customer feedback guides our processes, our systems and our product innovations and indeed our brand architecture. VOC or the voice of the customer, is one of the most critical pillars in the Mashreq philosophy of a customer-centric organisation, that our CEO has laid down for the Bank. Our whole brand revolves around this key philosophy — all actions emanate from a deep understanding of this tenet.

To operationalise this philosophy, we have instituted monthly service quality reviews where every conceivable service metric is analysed and each deviation from the norm is examined with great diligence and acted upon. We also hold monthly customer round tables with customers from all segments to help us gather the VOC, which is reviewed and used to amend policies, processes and service touch points to continually improve the overall customer experience. Our sole aim is to earn customer advocacy and move beyond mere satisfaction.


Ms Couto, RAKBANK: Being a customer-centric bank, the voice of the customer is an indicator of the bank’s performance across our products and services. Feedback received in the form of a complaint or suggestion provides us with an opportunity for improvement or innovation and hence is paramount to RAKBANK. We are very accessible to our customers and are glad to receive feedback through our channels such as Branches, Website, Online Banking, Mobile Banking, Contact Centre and social media.