Customer service and stuff

I think its fair to say that in Dubai service companies pay attention to customer service. Especially hotel staff is usually nice and friendly. Just last week when I went to Fairmont hotel one of the staff members said something like "Hey I remember you, how are you sir?" which felt pretty good. BUT often the quality or the way they offer this service has (a lot of) room for improvement.

One of the things that bothers me is the fakeness (of course its Dubai - everything here is fake!). "How are you, sir?" is a question (which is not really a question) you will hear everywhere. Sometimes it can be really annoying. You wanna do your thing or whatever, and somebody steps up to you with how-can-I-help-you bs. I know its their job, but if you encounter that in every step it can be frustrating. I happened to read one dudes comment on the same:

For instance, when at the breakfast buffet, my hand will be an inch from the cornflakes dispenser when some dickhead will fun up and say:

"Cornflakes, sir?"

And I will reply:

"I know they're cornflakes you stupid fuckwit!!! I was trying to get some to eat before you intervened with your inane commentary on everything I am doing!! Now, fuck off!!!"

This is too much, but I can see how one loses its nerves finally. Plus I think Dubai spoils people. I've seen expats acting the way they wouldn't in their home country.

Fake greetings on the phone make me wanna puke sometimes. "Hey, how are you? Good! Thanks I'm fine!". They don't even listen what you reply, they just go on and on with their program. Mostly I don't ask in return how are they doing cause I'll hear "thanks I'm fine" anyway and they feel I did ask. Even if I won't ask and they do notice I'm sure they don't mind 'cause everybody knows its stupid anyway. I might as well tell them that "I'm about to die and I wish you were dead too!" and they'd say "Good! Thanks I'm fine!".

At restaurants its the same thing quite often. "How is/was your meal, sir?". You could easily reply "tasted like wet dog with some vomit" and they will just smile "Very good, sir".

Sometimes restaurant staff has been trained to respond in a certain way, to give you some speech, repeat your order and god knows what - which could be nice if delivered in an authentic, sincere way. But no! Never seen that in Dubai. All the "thank you"s and "very good"s are as real as the three Taj Mahals, two Eiffel towers, and a Pisa tower in Dubai (why travel anywhere else!). I don't know whether this fake customer service speech works on anyone, but not on me. I think the money spent on their training (although probably they won't invest in "low" class people, so nothing lost?) is a waste of money. If you seek customer service excellence, then do it right.

Another thing you notice in Dubai is the huge number of service personell in places like supermarkets, restaurants and so on. In Carrefour (supermarket near my home) there are so many of them, especially the electionics section is totally overstaffed. You almost have to fight to make your way through the customer service people to see the products. Often they gather into some corner and joke between each other. In Carrefour their favourite hangout place seemes to be between the fridges (probably they have some inside joke like "let's go to the "cool" place. haha!"). When you ask them something specific, a technical question, often they don't know more than "its made in Japan, very good!".

When I lived in my previous place the supermarket I visited the most was Lulu (rumor has it it's the center of the universe). They had huge number of people working there as well. Most of the time doing nothing... When the labour costs are so cheap, nobody bothers about efficiency. Maybe the one place which cares about it in Dubai is Ikea, although I can't swear on it. The only reason how Dubai is building so many skyscrapers so fast is the huge number of indians/pakistanis/etc on one construction site. Coca-Cola invests gazillion dollars in TV advertising, Dubai puts gazillion indians on one construction site.

Don't be surprised when you find a restaurant with 10:1 waiter/customer ratio, it happens. And it doesn't mean the service is fast! There's a shisha place I go to with my friends where each waiter seems to have a different job role: one guy takes the order, second brings glasses, third one water, fourth dude shisha, fifth guy changes the charcoals, sixth brings the food, seventh the bill and eigth (higher rank) takes the money. And there are about 5 more dudes who walk around and do nothing (at least I haven't figured out their role). I'm sure they don't get paid anything and motivation level is below zero, but hey - this is not normal.

Sometimes I feel Dubai puts so much effort on facade (and telling the miracle of Dubai story) that it forgets about the real thing. Once you dig deeper, you can find a great deal of crap. Just the other day I read from a paper how the quality of construction (which nearly always sucks) in a new part of town - Jumeirah Islands - was total crap (residents complaining). And the real estate developer responded something like that oh c'mon, what else do you expect for 2.1 mln dirhams? Nice.


Anonymous said...

this is a posting that i just have to comment. Peep - you are not alone in this!!! I am experiencing something very similar here in Costa Rica! the service could not be any worse. on the door of a shop there are 4-5 people telling you to get in ...and if you do, they follow you like a loyal dog anywhere you go, even if you told them that you are just looking. and it makes you feel so uncomfortable! so that explains why most of my shopping trips have failed here. and of course, when you actully need something from them, they are not there! or speaking on the phone and ignoring you totally or whatever! so.... i guess does not matter that Dubai is about the furthest place from Costa Rica, it still can suck in the same way!
greetings,maris :)

Peep said...

Haha, bad service knows no borders:)

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Customer Service Training Dubai