Introduction: Brief Background Information about the Company
DEWA – Dubai Electricity and Water Authority – is a public organization that is involved in the distribution of water and electricity to residents in Dubai. Moreover, the company manufactures pre-insulated pipes that it uses to cool residential homes in Dubai through its distribution networks. Sheik Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum founded the company in 1992 when he facilitated the mergers between Dubai Electricity Department and Dubai Water Department.
Over the years of operation, the organization has succeeded in growing its customer base to slightly over 700,000. The growth has been partly facilitated by its reputable customer service that attracts new clients while retaining the existing customer base. The firm’s excellence in customer service has prolonged its survival in the harsh market through keeping up with its competition, including European and American-based private companies.
Customer Service Strategy to Improve Buyer Perceptions beyond Expectations
Efficient Communication with Customers
According to Gaffney (2007), today’s consumers are more interested in communicating with firms using modern and multiple channels such as email, SMS, social media, and voice calls among others. The ability of DEWA to respond promptly to requests by customers at whatever time and through multiple means will have a significant effect on the effectiveness of the organization in reference to connecting with its customers. For instance, customers expect the statuses of their reconnection requests to be immediately communicated to them via multiple means such as SMS, voice calls, or emails, followed by immediate action. Delays in communication would reflect badly to the organization by creating negative perceptions to the customers (Gaffney, 2007).
As Angelova and Zekiri (2011) assert, quality services are important since they enhance customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is a core aspect of marketing philosophy and hence an essential goal of companies such as DEWA. Customers of DEWA expect the equipment used in distributing electricity and water to be of high quality to mitigate occurrences of power outages and/or water shortages.
On the other hand, repeat occurrences of power outages and water shortages would disappoint customer expectations of quality service by DEWA, thus creating a negative perception regarding the company’s level of service. Therefore, customers would opt for better service elsewhere. Quality services are essential for DEWA in relation to outperforming its competition that ultimately translates into increased profits and market share for the organization (Angelova & Zekiri, 2011).
Quick Response to Customer Requests
Organizations often take long to respond to requests by unsatisfied customers. Moreover, even when they respond, their rejoinder is impersonal. In this regard, quick response by DEWA not only creates a perception of a sense of urgency by company staff but also demonstrates the company’s immense concern for the customer when it comes to meeting their needs. Quick response or aptness encompasses short-time cycles, regularity in service delivery, and quick management of buyer problems. In addition, to facilitate quick response, the firm needs to increase the capacity of its staff to eliminate imbalances that may be present in some of its departments.
Employment of Highly Skilled Customer Service Personnel
Employees are responsible for communicating with customers. When employees are effective in their communication in line with customers’ expectations, the company is guaranteed to retain its customers while attracting new customers from referrals (Sturman & Ford, 2011).
Therefore, DEWA’s human resource should ensure that new recruits meet the required standards of employment. Moreover, the new recruits should be oriented and well trained to provide services that meet standards set by the company. This requirement notwithstanding, training should be an ongoing process that is done continuously to enhance the level of behavior, skills, and knowledge of employees regarding their performance. For instance, DEWA can organize frequent retreats and team building events through which training can be done while employees are on a break from work (Sturman & Ford, 2011).
Strategy to Improve the Company’s Reputation
Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility entails the organization’s continuous commitment to contributing to the economic growth and improvement of quality of life of the surrounding community. Corporate social responsibility has now become an essential strategy for most companies, whether public or private (Lenguyen, 2011). DEWA’s success can be attributed to its relationship with its key stakeholders, including customers and their levels of satisfaction.
For instance, the organization can provide annual scholarships to students in Dubai. In this sense, corporate social responsibility improves the attitudes of the customers towards the company through enhancing its overall image as a “first-class national”. As a result, it encourages customer loyalty. Additionally, through commitment to corporate social responsibility, DEWA stands a chance to downsize the level of skepticism by the customers through reducing concerns and doubts in relation to the reliability of the company (Lenguyen, 2011).
To sustain competitive advantage and/or improve its reputation, DEWA needs to invest more capital in acquiring new technology. For instance, the company can dedicate resources that are aimed at developing new technologies that reduce energy consumption by the clients, thus saving them money. Through providing such technological solutions, the organization is assured of a good reputation that comes with retention of its customer base and an attraction of new client (Nemoto, Vasconcellos, & Nelson, 2010).
The development of a partnership between technological capable companies such as DEWA with other technological competent similar companies is a wise move for the company. Such a partnership offers the potential to create an entry barrier for other companies that intend to enter the industry.
Complying with Ethical Guidelines
McMurrian and Matulich (2011) assert that reputation for ethical operations of business activities can be a prime source of competitive advantage. By observing high standards of organizational ethics, customers develop trust in DEWA. As a result, the company’s overall image – both internally and in the market place – is enhanced. Contrary to general conceptions, a reputation of ethical practice can enhance the profitability of a business such as DEWA. Organizations that are regarded as ethical in their practice have illustrated a higher level of efficiency, higher level of loyalty and commitment by its employees, higher levels of perceptions on product quality, higher levels of loyalty among customers, and better performance with reference to finances.
Diversification of operations concerning service or product portfolio can stimulate a higher corporate performance. By pursuing a strategy that enhances diversification, the company can focus on its core strengths while exploiting interpersonal relationships between different lines of businesses among its growing clientele. According to the theory of diversification, diversification of products and services offered by an organization allows the firm to reduce its specific risk through relying on a greater number or variety of products and/or services. Moreover, customers will have a wide variety of products to choose from based on their individual preferences.
Strategy to Create Customer Friendly Environment
Integration of the Golden Rule into Customer Service
Applying the golden rule requires an individual to do unto others what they would love to be done to them. In regards to customer service, the first golden rule stipulates that a customer who is in need is a customer indeed. This claim implies that DEWA should differentiate its service to the customer in terms of high quality in comparison with its competitors. For instance, poor quality services would result in displeased customers
Consequently, it may have a negative effect on the business in terms of high deflection rate due to unfriendly environment. In addition, the golden rule highlights the importance of hiring personnel with good customer service skills. To implement this strategy successfully, DEWA can identify employees who are deemed to possess skills that are instrumental to customer service such as good communication skills, patience, positive attitude, and ability to handle stress among others. Such attributes would ensure that customers are always handled professionally in a way that leaves them satisfied (Stone & Liyanearachch, 2007).
Viewership of Customers as Number One
This strategy is part of customer value creation. As part of its value creation, DEWA should ensure that its existing customers are well informed about its organizational policies. Kandampully, Mok, and Sparks (2001) argue that informing customers about specific policies is important since the strategy reduces the possibility of conflicts and stressful situations. Another important aspect in creating a customer friendly environment is reinforcing familiarity with the company’s services among DEWA’s existing customers.
To illustrate this point, Nacif (2003) explains that increased familiarity with the services and/or products that an organization offers among its existing customers improves their ability to elaborate, analyze, and process product information and hence reduce the cognitive effort required by the customers to determine the type of product or service they want. Customers also expect DEWA to improve the quality of its products and/or services year after year as a goal to offer better customer experience. This strategy can be informed through formulating a doable company quality policy that stipulates the guidelines or benchmark to quality improvement.
Integration of a Work-Hard-Play-Hard Culture
According to Chalofsky and Griffin (2005), an organization that encourages a work-hard-play-hard culture is highly likely to offer customers a much friendlier environment compared to an organization where work without play is the norm. Employees in a work-hard-play-hard environment are more motivated in discharging their organizational duties. To implement this strategy, the organization can organize holidays and other events for its employees to celebrate their continued commitment to achieving the corporate mission and vision.
During such events, employees, as well as senior management officials, will have an opportunity to interact and share ideas regarding the discharge of their duties. Such socialization creates a sense of togetherness within the organization. Furthermore, happy and committed employees who are involved in daily interactions with customers will direct their positive attitude towards the customers, thus creating a customer friendly environment that exceeds customer expectations (Chalofsky & Griffin, 2005).
Customer Retention Program
Excellence in Customer Service
According to Mohsan, Nawaz, Khan, Shaukat, and Aslam (2011), excellence in customer service entails keeping all customers satiated in line with their expectations. Customers who are satisfied with the existing services are more than likely to refer others (friends, relatives, and colleagues) to the organization. On the other hand, one of the main causes of high deflection and churn rates in businesses is poor customer services. Low level of service results in unsatisfied and unpleased customers. An unpleased customer is likely to tell 10 to 20 other people who in turn may tell five more potential or existing customers.
Overall, at least 50 to 100 customers would be affected and consequently leave the organization. To curb this situation, DEWA’s management should ensure that its customer service is consistent regarding product and service quality, reliability, design, accountability, responsiveness, empathy, and assurance in a way that not only meets customers’ expectations but also exceeds their expectations (Mohsan et al., 2011).
The organization should revamp its customer services to cover internet services such as billing, technical assistance, email, infrastructure application services, and submission of tenancy contract. Through e-services, customers are able to get real-time accessibility of the company in any-place, including high-quality services both at organizational and individual levels. For instance, the firm can make use of electronic mail to send its customers promotional services at specific time intervals. Such service reinforces the sense of great customer value since customers feel relevant and hence likely resort to remaining loyal to the organization (Hofacker, Goldsmith, Bridges, & Swilley, 2007).
Automatic Call Distribution System
Due to the large number of incoming calls from customers, the organization needs to invest in an automatic call distribution system as part of its retention strategy. This form of system allows calls to be routed to the next available service provider. Moreover, receivers of the call can easily identify the number and the caller and hence serve their needs faster. Notably, customers expect quick and efficient services by organizations.
Thus, such a system is vital to achieve this goal. Additionally, the company should ensure that individuals who are tasked with receipt of calls through this system have excellent communication skills, can handle customers professionally even under stressful conditions, have excellent computer skills, are motivated, have spectacular problem solving skills, and/or can manage a customer conversation to the end. On the other hand, individuals who lack these set of skills are bound to leave customers unhappy, thus contributing to their deflection (Stone & Liyanearachch, 2007).
Social Media Department
Social media can provide a good source of electronic communication with consumers. Through social media platforms, customers can share in their ideas, acquire information, vent out their opinions, and/or send personal messages regarding their service satisfaction directly to the company’s management. In addition, the company can use social media platforms to obtain feedback regarding customer satisfaction to aid in self-evaluation to determine the risk of customer deflection. Additionally, the company can also influence customer referrals by appreciating customers for referring their friends (Matthews, 2010).
DEWA’s Technologies and their Significance
E-Services and the Drone Technology
The company offers e-services as a way of reducing the cost of physical movement of the customer to the organization or vice versa. DEWA deploys the drone expertise in its Sirb (Arabic for fleet) program that was initiated in 2015. The program includes a convoy of first-class drones that boost Dubai’s infrastructure while at the same time availing resourceful and user-friendly services. The scheme upholds countrywide efforts to deploy contemporary technologies to serve people.
Today’s customer expects an organization to respond to his or her needs in a fast and efficient way. This situation often requires the incorporation of modern technology as part of the organization’s response channel. For instance, DEWA has invested in improvement of its information technology system to facilitate quick flow of information between customers and the organization. The strategy ensures that customers get fast, smooth, and quality services.
Moreover, an efficient information technology system will allow the company to continuously evaluate its performance through analyzing feedback from specific customers while making continuous follow up on the status of response for a certain customer (Idris, Olumoko, & Ajemunigbohun, 2013).
Most business that operate in the same industry often use customer service to distinguish between themselves, rather than the product. Technology is a significant tool when it comes to differentiating excellence in service among competing enterprises. As a case in point, efficient information technology in DEWA has allowed the organization to gain a good reputation in regards to being the best in customer service. Therefore, technology has been used by the organization to differentiate its customer service with its competitors in the same industry (Wright, 2007).
An opportunity for the Organization
Technology offers the organization an opportunity to provide higher quality of service to the customers compared to its competitors. Knapp (2011) also highlights that besides technology as a business opportunity, there is the need to incorporate persons with the right technical experience to manage the technology. Efficient and effective technology may also be an opportunity for both the customer and the organization to cut costs that are associated with traditional forms of customer service. In reference to the organization, an efficient technological system of customer service cuts costs that are associated with delays and breakdown of ineffective equipment (Verhoef et al., 2009).
Conclusion: Key Insights
DEWA should incorporate a social media platform as a means of interacting with its customers. By using social media, the organization will be able to stay in touch with key customers while at the same time acquiring feedback regarding its perceived level of service by customers. Such information would assist the management in coming up with an improvement strategy such as improving the existing technology and faster response in terms of reconnections and delays in payments.
In addition, the organization needs to create a better customer friendly environment by integrating a work-hard-play-hard culture. Overworked and overstressed workers provide little attention to customers. The situation often leads to unhappy customers. Hence, I would recommend the organization to organize team building events and holidays for its employees to foster constructive interactions, thus helping in creating a conducive environment for the employees and customers.
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