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The voiceless have a voice through Gulf News. They are our readers writing to Gulf News to be heard. They ask us to intervene to resolve their complaints.

They vent their anger and frustrations against the service or disservice of the company. The complaints varies from overcharging to ineffective processes, over delays in service and under false pretences such as free for life credit cards, and so on. At times they are harassed and being hapless, they lose hope. Have you struggled over similar issues?

Gulf News will do its best to help. We process reader complaints. With our intervention, our reader grievances are heard by the service-oriented companies. We give the management of the company a chance to investigate the issue and rectify the problem. They extend a helping hand and offer our readers satisfactory resolution. This platform provides easy access for the customers to connect with the companies and vice versa.

In publishing consumer complaints, the complainant and the wider audience, the readers, will learn how to deal with certain issues and will be well informed of their rights as a consumer; whereas the companies can clarify their policies and improve their services.

In cognizance of the companies’ cooperation with us, it’s time to recognise and honour them for their outstanding customer service.

RAK Bank has emerged as number one in pursuit of customer service excellence. The second place goes to Emirates NBD, and tied for third place are First Gulf Bank and etisalat. They have been processing our reader complaints promptly with empathy and transparency.

We have ranked these organisations based on our reader complaints processed from July to December 2014. Our criteria for ranking were based on: speed on investigation and resolution to the complaint; transparency on how they rectified and resolved the complaint; the complainant’s satisfaction; and the companies’ cooperation with Gulf News. We have also considered the number of complaints processed for each company to have a fair and sound judgement.

The next ranking of companies will be based on reader complaints processed for the year 2015. We will be publishing the honour roll around this time in 2016. We will apply the same criteria for ranking. Thus, we expect the service-oriented companies to be more competitive and maintain or improve their ranking. Their first priority should be the customer’s satisfaction for them to be on top of the honours list.

Gulf News interviewed the top companies to find out the secrets of building a customer-centric culture in their company.

Gulf News: How do you treat reader complaints having the same issue? Have you changed your policy based on their feedback?

Ms Sabrina Couto, Head of Service Quality and Training, RAK Bank: All complaints received at RAK Bank are fully investigated by an independent team, the root cause analysed and the customer’s concerns resolved. We are constantly reviewing our policies, systems and processes and regularly use the feedback to improve the future customer experience.

Mr Kuldeep Chouhan, Head of Group Customer Experience, Emirates NBD: While receiving customer complaints and analysing them, we bear in our minds that every customer is unique, even if their complaints are similar in nature, as they have different financial situations and circumstances. We ensure that we are treating our customers fairly within our policies and procedures and offer them solutions. We continuously look at the trends in complaints in order to identify any gaps in our processes and services, and we incorporate the changes in order to serve our customers better. We consider the issues raised by our customers as an opportunity to improve our products and services.

Ms Khadeeja Al Marzooqi, Vice President – Corporate Affairs, First Gulf Bank (FGB): One of FGB’s main focuses is customer service, and how to enhance it on a regular basis. We value our clients’ feedback and are always looking for ways to enhance our products and offerings. We are continuously taking note of any issues that arise and we take action accordingly. This is why we have focused on enhancing our Customer Care Unit operations for the swift resolution of any issues.

Mr Fares Hamad Fares, Vice President/Corporate Communications, etisalat: Customer satisfaction is number one priority for etisalat, and we have dedicated teams of specialised staff on hand 24/7. Whether it’s dealing with queries or technical issues, our staff work tirelessly to provide customers with the best service while adhering to the best telecom industry standards.

Our manuals and processes always undergo amendment based on feedback we receive from various parties, and our customers’ feedback is a primary source for us in this respect. We continuously work to improve customers’ interaction with our services for example, etisalat launched the interactive self-care app to offer customers a range of smart services at their fingertips — mobile account tracking, bill payments, instant subscription to packages and bundles, parking payment and much more. The app is available on the iOS, BlackBerry, Android and Windows platforms for free download.

Gulf News: Do you think our process helped you assess the quality of service that you provide to your customers? How?

Ms Couto, RAK Bank: Gulf News is a leading media channel in the region and we appreciate the opportunity provided to its readers to express their service feedback to a widespread audience.

RAK Bank is actively engaged in obtaining customer feedback through several channels and are grateful that you [Gulf News] have supported this through your Readers’ column. Our commitment to service is ingrained in every function and activity that we undertake and is embedded in the very core of our corporate culture. These values are infused at all levels enabling customers to experience the highest standards of service.

Mr Chouhan, ENBD: At Emirates NBD, we take customer feedback and concerns seriously as they assist us in identifying process gaps, if any, and opportunities for improvements. Complaints received through Gulf News are indeed as important as any channel the Bank made available to our customers and we value the strong relationship we have with this leading publication. We also consider the ranking of our services among other service industries as one of the benchmarks that give us a clear picture if we are on the right track. We appreciate the role that premier media organisations such as Gulf News are playing in bringing greater transparency as well as support to the people of the UAE.

Ms Al Marzooqi, FGB: Gulf News has provided an additional channel for our customers to communicate with us, which supports our overall, customer-centric strategy as a bank.

Mr Fares, etisalat: Yes, among other indicators that we continuously assess, your [Gulf News] continuous feedback and update on customer issues has been of great advantage for us and has helped us to make meaningful improvements going forward.

In a nutshell, for any service-oriented companies to stay ahead and succeed, they have to prioritise their customers; listen to their feedback and take it on-board.

BOX OUT:

Gulf News’ honours list:

1 RAK Bank

2 Emirates NBD

3 First Gulf Bank

3 Etisalat

4 Standard Chartered

5 Du

6 Mashreq

6 Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB)

6 National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD)

6 Dubai First

7 Najm JCB

7 Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB)

8 United Arab Bank (UAB)

8 Flydubai

8 Aramex

8 Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB)

9 Dunia

9 UAE Exchange

9 National Bank of Fujairah (NBF)

9 Emirates Islamic

9 Commercial Bank International (CBI)

9 Noor Bank

10 Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (Sewa)

10 Roads and Transport Authority (RTA)

11 Air Arabia

11 Emirates airlines

11 Air India Express

12 Ajman Bank

12 HSBC

13 Etihad Airways

14 Union National Bank (UNB)

15 Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa)

15 Gulf Air

15 Qatar Airways

15 ICICI