With the increasing global competition, businesses and organizations are beginning to directly focus on customer satisfaction through improving the quality of services to remain relevant. With the rapid dynamic changes in both the market and technology, businesses such as Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) are beginning to develop competitive strategies to deal with their customers to ensure that their needs are met. One of the best pacesetters of good customer service in the UAE is DEWA. Through its corporate strategic plan, the company has been at the forefront in nurturing good customer service with the intention of creating value for all its customers.
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is a public company that majors in the distribution of electricity and water to Dubai residents. The company manages over 7,829MW of electricity and 330 million gallons of water per day. In addition, the company has ventured into the business of acquiring, managing, operating, and maintaining cooling distribution networks in Dubai. Furthermore, the company is involved in manufacturing pre-insulated pipes that are primarily used for cooling homes. The company was founded in 1992 by Sheik Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum as a merging corporation between Dubai Water Department and Dubai Electricity Department.
The company has managed to grow its customer base to 730,000. It has consistently maintained a customer satisfaction rate of 94 percent. The company’s major competitors are mainly American and European businesses. Nevertheless, the company has managed to surpass its competitors concerning the quality of services to the extent of being one of the best companies with quality and satisfactory customer services.
Customer Service Strategies implemented by DEWA
Service Climate Theory
In terms of service climate, the company optimizes its costs in an attempt to ensure that it pleases all its customers while at the same time maintaining a positive perception with its customers in terms of satisfactory and quality services. The impact of its service climate strategy has been greatly felt in the company’s purely services departments such as bill inquiry, bill payment/view, change of proprietor information, requests for the callback, and registration accounts (DEWA, 2016a). Additionally, the company is in constant engagement with its employees in the process of setting viable customer service in a bid to create a consistent, routinized, and standardized service climate for all its customers (Mayer, Ehrhart, & Schneider, 2009).
Customer Orientation Strategy
The customer orientation strategy aims at determining the company’s level of customer service quality from the customers’ point of view. This goal is achieved through its customer complaints e-contact center on its website. Through this platform, customers can submit complaints on faulty services. They can also provide recommendations on how the company can tackle an existing problem. Moreover, the strategy allows the company to interact with its customers from whom it can obtain feedback on customer satisfaction.
Customer service flexibility
Incorporating flexibility in customer service delivery has allowed the company to keep its customers happy and satisfied in spite of the existing condition/situation. This situation has pushed the company to adjust its services based on the customers’ preferences and/or demands, which enhance a positive outlook of the firm to its customers in terms of its commitment to promoting customer value (Rujira, Prathanporn, & Kesinee, 2015). For instance, the customer can easily make a request for a change in the proprietor by simply replacing the old details with new details just by the click of a button through the company’s website.
Barriers to Customer Service and the Company’s Management Strategies
Technology is a barrier in the sense that it hinders direct face-to-face interactions between employees and customers. Such one-on-one interactions allow the creation of a rapport between the two parties. Therefore, the company has increased its physical customer service premises where customers can obtain their services close to their homes. This situation has provided the employees with the opportunity to build strong relationships with the clientele (Giebelhausen, Robinson, Sirianni, & Brady, 2014).
Overworked and Depressed Workers
Overworking results in burnouts and diminishing results from the employees. Consequently, customers no longer receive enough attention to their pending issues (Thomas, 2009). Therefore, the company organizes retreats and team building events for all its employees to break the monotony of having to work in a desk throughout the day. Meyer (2014) outlines the benefits of company retreats and team building events that companies such as DEWA should apply.
One of them is that they help employees to overcome their fears and frustration that is related to work. For instance, the employees can use fear cards where each is required to reveal what frustrates them or they fear most. In addition, through these retreats, DEWA’s leaders can seize the opportunity to nurture good customer relations culture among its employees.
Lack of Accountability
Since individual employees cannot be held accountable for poor customer service, they lack the drive to sustain the company’s strategic policy of making its stakeholders happy. Moreover, the staff members can easily direct the blame to someone else since they cannot be directly reprimanded for complaints of poor customer service from the public (Thomas, 2009). Leaders of the company have focused on fostering a strong sense of teamwork among the employees where they (employees) feel responsible for the teams’ failure. Thus, they are self-motivated to improve the company’s customer service. In addition, team spirit allows employees to share their frustrations or issues with the rest of the team members, a move, which may then provide solutions to the employees’ problems regarding the performance of their duties (Maddux, 1994).
Lack of Tangible Incentives
DEWA has developed a culture of rewarding its hard-working employees by giving them monetary and non-monetary incentives. For instance, in 2012, the company honored 16 of its most distinguished employees in its second quarter as a token of their recognition of their commitment to the organization. This strategy was aimed at encouraging employees to continue with their spirit of commitment in a bid to oblige to the company’s strategic policy of being excellent in customer service (DEWA, 2016a).
Bureaucracy refers to the many processes a client is subjected to before being served on his/her need. For instance, cases have been witnessed where approval/certification of some documents such as the clearance certificate request requires one to attach various documents such as ID, a copy of a trade license, and a letter. Such processes may require one to scan documents. As a result, the process may prove quite tedious for the client (DEWA, 2016b). The company is committed to innovating new and instant customer service processes that eliminate routine and bureaucratic procedures.
Company’s Success in Creating Customer Value
Rational Consumption Campaign
The company has been supportive of Dubai’s implementation of a clear and innovative strategy of establishing foundations in sustainable development and the launching of social and awareness campaigns that promote the rational use of water and energy. To achieve this goal, the company approaches and encourages its customers to limit the use of their energy between 12 pm and 6 pm. This time is considered peak-load hours.
It has also urged Dubai’s residents to try to adopt a sustainable lifestyle for the city to sustain its resources for future generations. According to the customer service manager, these solutions will provide value for the company’s service by reducing the overall consumption of electric-consuming appliances and gadgets such as washing machines, water heaters, irons, and electric oven, hence saving the customers a lot of money at the end (Elan, 2015).
Customer Service Innovation
The company has continued to explore new propositions for customer value that is founded on the existing ones through its team of skilled and experienced staff. For instance, in 2012, it launched the customer care and emergency call center awareness campaign through which its clientele could contact the company’s customer care staff for billing inquiries or in cases of emergencies in regards to the services offered (Skålén, Gummerus, von Koskull, & Magnusson, 2014).
Customer-centric leadership encompasses aspects of client asset management such as sales, network, and building of a relationship. In this strategy, the customer is viewed as an asset. As a result, the company allocates its resources towards customer service segments, thus creating maximum attention of its products while at the same time containing the risk of customer dissatisfaction (Senn, Thoma, & Yip, 2013).
For instance, the company has been keen on optimizing its cost, revenues, and investments in an effort to support customer service programs such as rational use campaign, environmental sustainability campaign, and the provision of high quality and reliable electricity and power with 24/7 complaint contact in case of sudden power shortages. Overall, it has ensured that all its customers are satisfied and happy with the services it offers.
Skilled and experienced Staff
Part of its corporate strategy is to employ skilled and experienced staff members who will provide valuable service to its customers. Therefore, its customer service employees have to have the proper qualifications for customer service agents with at least some experience in customer service. Additionally, the company continues to train and motivate its staff members to add value to their customer service.
The company views customer equity as the process of building and managing customer-company relationships. This strategy warrants that the customer must be viewed as an important asset that requires proper management and optimization similar to the company’s financial resources. In this respect, DEWA strives to balance its financial goals and customer-asset management. To achieve this goal, the company continues to invest in infrastructure development that will put it ahead of its competitors in terms of meeting the needs of its customers.
Conclusion: Key Insights/Recommendations
It is recommendable that the company should develop a customer service social media platform through which it can interact with its employees while acting as a source of promotion for its innovative rational water and energy use. This move will integrate its external and internal communication, thereby enhancing its engagement with all its stakeholders. The company should come up with customer loyalty programs that reward its most valuable customers.
DEWA is in no doubt a leader when it comes to customer service. The company is a public company that was founded in 1992 as a merger of Dubai’s Water and Electricity departments. The company’s main mandate is to distribute electricity and water to Dubai city residents. It manages over 7,829 MW of electricity 330 million gallons of water per day. In addition, the company has ventured into the business of securing, administration, operating, and maintaining cooling circulation networks in Dubai. Part of DEWA’s strategic outline is to become an exceptional customer service corporation. Therefore, it has drawn out specific strategies that are aimed at improving its customer service, which comprise client service novelty, customer-centered course, and augmentation of its service climate, self-service e-platform, and customer service flexibility.
The company optimizes its costs, revenue, and investments to provide reasonable and quality services to customers in addition to maintaining a good service atmosphere. The company has ensured that it upholds flexibility to its customers to allow easy adaptation to specific customer needs or changes. Through its customer orientation strategy, the company engages its customers by providing them an opportunity to contribute their points of view in regards to how it should move forward.
In terms of barriers to implementing customer service strategies, overworked and demotivated workers are a major barrier to good customer service. To counteract this issue, the company organizes regular retreats and team building events for its employees where they can share their experiences and relax. Technology is also a barrier since it denies the company the opportunity to bond with its customers.
This situation has forced the company to increase its physical customer service premises where they (customers) can obtain their service close to their homes, thus providing an opportunity for rapport building. Bureaucracy is also another barrier that the company is trying to eliminate by innovating better terms of instant and efficient services. The company has also ensured that it motivates its employees by giving them incentives, both monetary and non-monetary, such as through recognition and rewards.
DEWA’s skilled and experienced workers strive to find new and innovative ways of improving the company’s customer service. For instance, the company launched a billing and emergency customer care contact center through which customers can make inquiries on their bills or report any emergencies such as power outages. Another way in which the company creates value for customer service is by employing skilled and experienced customer service agents. Moreover, the company is continuously involved in the process of training and motivating its employees to add value to its services.
The company incorporates a customer-centric leadership approach to its customer service through resource optimization to keep up with the corporate strategy of providing reliable and excellent customer service.
The company views customer equity as the process of building and managing customer-company relationships through allocating financial resources in activities that create value for its client service. For instance, the company has invested heavily in its infrastructure in an effort to maintain the quality standards of its services, thus ensuring that the customer is always satiated.
As a recommendation, the company should develop a customer service social media platform through which it can interact with its employees. It should also act as a source of promotion for its innovative rational water and energy use. To woo competitors, the company should incorporate a loyalty program for its distinguished customers as a customer retention strategy.
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