A whole new tone

Andy Sambidge on why competition in the UAE telco sector should usher in a revolution in customer services

Tags: CompetitionEmirates Integrated Telecommunications Company Etisalat International - UAEUnited Arab Emirates
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A whole new tone Will telecoms liberalisation ring in a new era of customer service?
By  Andy Sambidge Published  July 21, 2010

Anyone with an interest in the activities of UAE telcos Etisalat and du will tell you that their customer service levels generally leave a lot to be desired.

Either you are left hanging on the telephone for what feels like hours and then cut off (how ironic is that?) or you are told someone will call you back and they never do.

A quick check on the Arabian Business comments board confirms that most stories about either company usually turn into a rant from readers about their experiences of poor customer service.

But that is all about to change as the UAE's telecoms watchdog prepares to give the green light on liberalising the sector.

This will give customers the choice of operator rather than being constrained by the location of your home.

More importantly these companies, which have enjoyed an easy ride over the past few years in growing their customer base, are going to have to fight for future business.

So this should be good news for you and I. This should mean that both will be going all out for your business.

The charm offensive has already begun at du. They issued at SMS on Monday night apologising for a recent TV blackout and offering customers free access to its Unlimited Video on Demand service until September 30 by way of compensation.

Can anyone remember a gesture like this in the past?

So to help everyone in their choice of operator once the telecoms sector is properly opened up, here's a checklist of what you should be able to expect from your supplier.

1. Discounted rates for mobile, fixed lines, TV and internet services [with further discounts for services like 3D TV].

2. Compensation packages for technical difficulties resulting in the loss of any of the above.

3. A special helpline staffed by efficient staff who do what they say they will do.

4. Introductory offers giving further discounts on the already discounted tariffs.

5. Free car with every new subscription.

Ok, so the last one is expecting a little too much but in theory the changing landscape in the telecoms industry should usher in a revolution in customer services in the UAE.

No longer will these companies be able to treat their customers badly and expect to get away with it.

Customer service will now have to be central to both companies' business plan going forward - if they don't, they will suffer an exodus of customers.

In the future, Etisalat and du should know that it doesn't really matter what services you offer (especially as both will be very similar), it is how you deliver them that matters.

And who knows, the new efficient, friendly face of Etisalat and du might just spread to other sectors in desperate need of a customer relations overhaul.

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