Perceptions of brands in the Gulf are being damaged by low standards of customer service, according to a new report on the experiences of shoppers.
A quarter of the shoppers who participated in the survey said they had visited shops that they would not return to or recommend to friends or family as a result of the poor service they received.
Rsearch company Grass Roots claims the report – entitled Are You Being Served? – is the first comprehensive study of customer service ever carried out in the Gulf. And it will be greeted with dismay by advertising and marketing professionals who devote their working lives to building brand reputations.
The survey, carried out in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, suggests that 40 per cent of retail staff fail to provide adequate guidance to customers.
The countries of the Gulf were ranked according to their overall performance, with the UAE gaining the highest satisfaction score at 78 per cent, and Qatar finishing last on 65 per cent. Qatar logged the lowest scores throughout the survey, with cluttered outlets and poor product knowledge being the main causes of complaint.
Grass Roots sent mystery shoppers to outlets in four industry sectors – automotive, fast food and coffee, banking and mobile phones – which were selected for their fast growth and increasingly competitive nature. A total of 350 visits were made over a two-month period.
Mark Spicer, operations director of Grass Roots, said: “With nearly one third of shoppers saying they would not return to the outlet or recommend it, the implications in terms of lost sales opportunities are alarming, especially at this time when a massive increase in retail outlets has coincided with an economic downturn.”