Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s Services

Abstract

Customer service is becoming critical even in monopolistic state-owned utility companies like DEWA. The aim of this research proposal is to investigate service delivery reliability, timely response, personalized attention, and staff as important aspects of customer service at the company.

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The Dubai Utility Industry

The Dubai utility industry, like the UAE federal utility industry, is dominated by state-owned enterprises. While Federal Electricity and Water Authority (FEWA) supplies water and electricity in some emirates of the UAE, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) serves the emirate of Dubai.

The demand in the Dubai utility industry is highly fluctuating. For instance, it can go as high as 92% in summer and as low as 33% during winter (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, n.d.). As such, suppliers must have a thorough understanding of the markets dynamics. Economic elements, such as state-owned enterprise monopoly, make the Dubai utility industry a good case for study.

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)

In 1992, a merger involving the Dubai Electricity Company and the Dubai Water Department led to the formation of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. The chief objective of DEWA has been availing adequate and reliable supply of water and electricity to the Dubai people. As such, DEWA has registered relatively high success, especially due to its efficacy and reliability in all of its activities.

With approximately 10,000 employees, DEWA has maintained high standards of services delivery. Thus, DEWA has made substantial achievement serving more than 677,751 electricity customers and 604,754 water customer in 2014. According to surveys, DEWA has a satisfaction rating of approximately 94.4% (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, n.d.). DEWA serves commercial, residential, industrial and desalination customer.

DEWA had an electricity capacity of more than 9,600 MW and water capacity of over 470 MIGD in 2013 and steady developments have been made over the years. Currently, DEWA is expanding the M-Station, which is one of the largest power station in the UAE to raise the electricity capacity to 10,356 MW by 2020 to cater for the growing demands (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, n.d.).

DEWA SWOT Analysis

Internal environmental facts and factors Strengths
Employees:
DEWA has a committed team of employees who are regularly trained to be equipped with competency in services delivery.
Collaboration:
DEWA has collaborated with local and international organizations with an aim of improving efficiency and sustainability. For instance, it worked with British Safety
Council to make an internal audit that led increased efficacy and environmental sustainability.
Good operations and customer satisfaction
DEWA boasts of efficient operations and excellent service delivery. It has one of the highest customer satisfaction rates globally, with a commendable 5.62 minutes per year customer minute lost relative to 16.4 minutes global average (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, n.d.).
Embracing Technology
DEWA is among the state-owned enterprises to have embraced technological development and most services are available online, including payment for services.
Weaknesses
Expatriate workers
Foreign workers in DEWA and other organizations in Dubai do not get equal treatment like Emiratis. This hinders the potential of most expatriate workers.
Monopoly
DEWA dominates the industry and hence customer and loyalty rating can be exaggerated. As such, customer services may be compromised.
Employee training
Although DEWA trains its employees, a lot need to be done to enhance customer service.
External environmental facts and factors Opportunities
Government support and funding
As a state-owed enterprise, DEWA enjoys government funding
Technological advances
Global technological development is revolutionizing services delivery. DEWA can make use of this to improve efficacy and effectiveness.
Low competition
The Dubai government dominates the utility industry. Therefore, the level of competition is low.
Threats
Political interference
Being a state-owned corporation, DEWA is likely to experience political interference, especially at top management level.
Economic uncertainties
The UAE and the Middle East region in general, face economic uncertainties with the global fluctuating oil prices.
Fluctuating utility demand
Dubai has the most fluctuating utility demand globally.

Management Perspectives

From theoretical perspectives, strategic marketing management principles have focused on customer analysis to determine diverse needs of various customers that organisations serve. DEWA serves millions of customers and, therefore, it must conduct thorough customer analysis determine various factors that lead to service reliability and subsequent customer positive experience.

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At the same time, these strategic management principles focus on enhancing customer relations to create greater value for an organisation. As such, many organisations in the UAE, specifically DEWA and other government agencies, have adopted customer quality management tools driven by the UAE government SMART services initiatives. Through the SMART services, DEWA now offers more than 150 services to its customers through online portals and smartphones that run on both iOS and android platforms (Akraf, 2014). Improving customer relationship is generally associated with positive outcomes. Organizations achieve positive customer relationship by investing in quality customer service team and tools to enhance outputs.

Unlike other state-owned companies, DEWA has persistently undertaken several initiatives to collect data to learn more about its customer service and customers, their concerns and improve customer experiences. For instance, DEWA is known to gather customer feedback regularly through customer satisfaction surveys and other informal channels. At the same time, DEWA has a created a small unit to handle customers’ complaints (Saleh & Al-Marzouqi, 2014). In fact, DEWA won ISO 10002 certification because of its excellent customer service based on the adoption of e-Complain System (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, 2014).

The department of customer services was recognized for its smooth and efficient handling of customer complaints and immediate responses through mobile and online applications. Thus, the state-owned firm has focused on attaining a sustainable global class utility status. It claims that the approach has enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty while improving service quality.

DEWA uses customer management applications that work harmoniously through different channels to collect data, handle payments, and any other required activities to improve customer services. In addition, it aims to adopt global best practices in customer service to improve customer complaint management and customer experience.

DEWA claims that its approaches to customer service are based on latest technologies that would ensure prompt responses and quality improvement. Through the e-Complain, DEWA can fast collect feedback from customers and use the outcomes to improve services while focusing on meeting diverse needs of customers. DEWA asserts that its Customer Relations Department has attained world-class status because of the ISO certification.

Besides, it claims that all customer service efforts are geared toward improving service levels to meet the highest standards of efficiency and reliability (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, 2014). At the same time, DEWA also reviews new developments in the international arena to identify latest practices in customer service to revamp its services.

DEWA has also launched a wide range of customer service initiatives and campaigns while introducing new technologies to handle all aspects of customer engagement. Consequently, it promotes the UAE government SMART vision of technology-based services in ministries. The organization has attained some major breakthroughs in service delivery as it scale ups service quality and speed of responses.

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While DEWA has achieved significant success in customer services, one can understand that these are initial stages of improving quality of services to reflect the global best practices. Notwithstanding these achievements, DEWA still faces critical issues related to customer service.

Customer Service Issues at DEWA

As previously mentioned, DEWA has won ISO certification because of excellent customer services. In fact, the sustainability report of 2014 had shown impressive improvements (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, 2015). However, feedback from customers suggests that the organization is yet to meet some aspects of customer service provisions. On this note, customer service issues at DEWA are generally related to greater service delivery reliability, timely response, personalized attention, and staff knowledge as past research has shown (Saleh & Al-Marzouqi, 2014).

Research Design and Plan Guidelines

Introduction

Customer service is obviously an issue for many organizations, including DEWA. Besides, organizations must continuously improve their customer service practices to meet new, diverse needs of their customers. As such, it is imperative to determine the extent of service delivery reliability and timely response at DEWA.

Objectives

  • To determine the extent of customer service delivery reliability and timely response
  • To demonstrate the level of staff knowledge, personalized attention and quality of responses

Background and Significance

Despite significant achievements in the level of customer service noted at DEWA, customers still raise concerns about some aspects of the service. Given the monopolistic nature of the stat-owned company, it is generally difficult to evaluate its customer service practices against any standards in the UAE.

Nevertheless, it is imperative to explore reliability, staff knowledge, timely response, and even personalized attention as aspects of customer service issues at DEWA.

This project is important to undertake because not much research has focused on evaluating the quality of customer service in state-owned organizations.

In the recent past, much attention has been paid to the level of customer service in private firms. In fact, some companies, such as airline and tourism firms, have developed extremely close relationships with their customers. However, it is difficult to say the same about state-owned firms. Thus, this study will contribute to knowledge in customer service provision specifically in monopolistic state-owned firms.

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It is also necessary to recognize that DEWA dominates the UAE utility sector and enjoys substantial support, including financial supports from the government. Such attributes, to some extent, could impair the quality of service.

While taking into account the action of DEWA to improve customer service and attain world-class best practices, it is noted that the research objectives would determine the extent of customer service delivery reliability, timely response, the level of staff knowledge, personalized attention, and quality of responses.

From the results, DEWA can improve or change its customer service practices or policies to meet diverse needs of customers.

Preliminary Studies

Existing studies show that DEWA has improved customer service and on its way to global standards by offering SMART solutions through modern technologies (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, 2015; Akraf, 2014). On the other hand, research shows that monopolistic tendencies offer dissatisfied customers no or limited choices, unless they move to other regions (Saleh & Al-Marzouqi, 2014). Since limited customer attrition is realized, public utility firms often develop unrealistic notion regarding the quality of their customer service and customer loyalty. Further, it also claimed that monopolies tend not to pay much attention to customer service design, are passive, lack information and unable to conduct realistic assessment of their practices (Saleh & Al-Marzouqi, 2014).

A significant percentage of customers are now focused on quality services and demand more from their service providers. Besides, excellent customer service is a continuous sustained effort. Current research shows that DEWA is a proactive company that focuses on excellent quality of service (Akraf, 2014). Nevertheless, consumers expect public utility firms, including DEWA to be proactive in their practices and always strive to improve their customer service quality policies.

Research Design and Methods

A survey method would be used to conduct this study. This is a descriptive research design and d, therefore, a questionnaire will be designed. The survey questionnaire will be used for data collection on customer service delivery reliability, timely response, the level of staff knowledge, personalized attention, and quality of responses.

It is also important to note that data will also be collected from DEWA database for analysis on specific research questions.

A pre-test will be conducted to determine the reliability and validity of the study instruments.

The study sample will include 150 participants from DEWA Dubai City. It is noted that this is a representative sample for the study.

The collected data will be analyzed using SPSS to describe the variables of the study (Jackson, 2009).

The study limitation will be attributed to the nature of the research design, which allows the research to describe results from the data collected but does not allow for drawing of conclusion i.e., how variables influence each other.

Proposed Work Plan and Timeline

Task/Timeline
Literature Review February 2016
Questionnaire design March 2016
Questionnaire pretesting March 2016
Review of pretested questionnaires April 2016
Actual data collection May 2016
Data Analysis June 2016
Reporting and presentation of results June 2016

References

Akraf, Y. I. (2014). EFQM Good Practice Competition 2014: Creative Customer Solutions. Web.

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. (2014). DEWA’s Customer Relations Department wins ISO 10002 certification for excellence in customer service through eComplain system. Web.

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. (2015). DEWA Sustainabilty Report 2014. Web.

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. (n.d.). Dubai Electricity and Water Authority – a continuous success story. Web.

Jackson, S. L. (2009). Research Methods and Statistics: A Critical Thinking Approach (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Saleh, F., & Al-Marzouqi, A. (2014). An Examination of the Quality of Customer Service at a Public Utility Organization in the GULF Region. International Journal of Marketing, 6(1), 140-154. Web.

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