A qualitative analysis of the consumer experience in six key business sectors across Dubai shows coffee shops rated topmost, while hypermarkets came second followed by apparel, electronics, furniture and car agency sectors, in that order.
A first-of-its-kind initiative in the region led by the Department of Economic Development (DED), chiefly looked into the most popular business outlets in each of the sectors studied.
The main aim of the rating process was to understand the level of compliance to the Consumer Code of Rights stated in the Federal Law No 24 of 2006 and reinforce the message that consumer rights protection is a shared responsibility between retailers and consumers.
The rating was based on consumer opinions of individual outlets tracked over a period of nine months from April to December 2013 and consumer complaints received by DED, as well as the extent of parity/fair pricing for a pre-determined basket of products/services.
Consumers were asked to evaluate the outlet based on service quality, billing transparency, and sharing of warranty information by salesperson in addition to overall satisfaction.
Opinions from nearly 3,400 consumers along with consumer complaints received every month were evaluated.
The price parity was compared in regular intervals – monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly or half-yearly - depending on the nature of business.
Commented Omar Bushahab, Chief Executive Officer of the Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection (CCCP) sector in DED: “We wanted the rating to primarily focus on consumer experience.
“In a net score of 100, consumer opinion fetched the highest share of 60 per cent while the consumer complaints factor and fair pricing were given 20 per cent each.”
Bushahab added that classifying retail outlets on the basis of consumer-friendliness will promote service excellence, competitiveness and cordial relations between consumers and retailers while also building awareness on consumer rights and protecting them in line with DED’s strategic objective to encourage best practices in the retail sector.
“The retail sector being a major driver of economic development in Dubai this sector should reflect a high level of service quality and transparency that Dubai promotes as the hallmarks of its competitiveness.
“The ‘Consumer Friendliness Index’ will also help us evaluate retail sector performance and areas that need improvement,” said Bushahab.
Complaints resolution was the strongest factor that propelled coffee shops into the top spot with an aggregate score of 70.07 out of 100.
All seven coffee shops evaluated won full points (20 out of 20) in the Complaints criterion and average Consumer Rating was 40.07 out of 60.
Hypermarkets are evenly poised in the Price and Consumer Rating criteria but show big differences in their approach to Complaints. The average aggregate score for the sector is 68.50/100 but the outlet that had the lowest aggregate of 61.99 also stood last in complaints resolution with 9.04/20 even though there are hypermarkets that got full points in this regard.
Apparels and Furniture outlets shows huge gaps in prices and their respective sector aggregate scores are 67.76 64.69 out of 100. The top scorer in Apparels has 17.67 out of 20 and the lowest score is 4.33 while the corresponding scores for the Furniture sector are 14.80 and 4.25.
However, outlets deemed expensive in both sectors also show full compliance to complaints resolution and Consumer Rating of outlets is almost balanced in both sectors.
Electronics outlets show a tough competition across all three criteria in the rating. The average aggregate is 65.96 and among outlets the highest score is 71.38 while the lowest in 62.30.
Fair price and quick resolution of complaints are the chief deciders among Car agencies where an average aggregate score of 62.15 further breaks down into 61.87, 61.96, 62.12 and 61.96 in the Economy, Middle, Large Sedan and SUV segments. Outlets that are a strong players in all the segments also tend to have a uniform approach to resolving customer complaints.
The findings of the ‘Consumer Friendliness Rating’ study will be collated into a ‘Consumer Friendliness Index’ and outlets that won outstanding customer approvals will be honoured in a special ceremony hosted by DED.