Local Business

Almost 90% of UAE brands changed customer experiences due to the pandemic, study shows

Rohma Sadaqat /Dubai
rohma@khaleejtimes.com Filed on July 8, 2021
Research showed that 88% of UAE brands created a deeper connection with customers over the past year

A recent survey showed that 87 per cent of UAE brands experimented with new marketing approaches during the Covid-19 pandemic

Around 87 per cent of UAE IT decision-makers, and 88 per cent in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, have had to fundamentally change their customer experiences in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, new research has shown.

The research, conducted by YouGov MENA, for Sitecore, showed that in response to changing customer demands, 88 per cent of UAE IT decision-makers, and 84 per cent of Mena IT decision-makers, said their brands created a deeper connection with their customers over the past year. The pandemic has also accelerated organisations’ digital transformation roadmaps.

Among respondents, 89 per cent in the UAE, and 83 per cent in Mena, said their brands had advanced their marketing technology stack more in the last year than in the previous three years before 2020. Thanks to these new technological capabilities, 87 per cent of UAE respondents, and 84 per cent of Mena respondents, said they experimented with a number of new marketing approaches during the pandemic.

“Regional brands understand that they need to prioritize digital experiences, especially for Millennials and Generation Z customers,” said Mohammed Alkhotani, area vice president – Middle East and Africa, Sitecore.

He also said that organisations should take innovation seriously when it comes to customer experience. “They should focus not only on customer relations, but really the experience. Most of the consumers today and B2B organisations are heavily dependent on digital because of the disconnect that happened. I believe that investments in experiences will be extremely important because you want to provide your customers and clients with the best digital experience and the best digital content that they need to make an informed decision.”

He added that the Covid-19 pandemic was a “wakeup call” for everyone and that organisations will have to build on the progress that is already made in customer experience.

Experts at Mashreq Bank, which embarked on a digital transformation journey with the key objective of improving the experience of customers, also shared their insights on putting technology firmly at the center of their business to consistently create personalized experiences.

Rafik Majiti, EVP and head of Digital, Mashreq Bank, said that customer experience is “a very important item” in the banking industry today. “The banking industry is highly commoditized, and I firmly believe that the only way for a bank to differentiate itself in this industry today is by being focused on customer experiences. Research has shown us that organisations which invest in customer experiences have much higher recommendations, greater wallet share, and they are also more likely to upsale and cross sale products to existing customers.”

He added that there are four factors that are basically forcing banks to accelerate their digital transformation. “The first one revolves around changing customer behavior. Customers are used to digital services from all types of different industries and that is what they expect from banks as well. The second factor is the evolution of technology; technology has become much more available and affordable for everyone.”

The third factor, he revealed, is that there are a lot of changing regulations which central banks are really focusing on, and forcing banks to do things differently. “The final factor revolves around the emergence of challengers, where we are seeing fintechs that are taking pieces of the banking industry or completely new banks that have entered the industry.”

The next step, he added, is going to revolve around data and Artificial Intelligence, which will give banks a lot of opportunities to “humanize digital.”

“Customers today are digital, we all know that, but banking today still requires a personal approach,” he said. “We are not using and leveraging data enough, and this is going to be a key differentiator for many customers.”



Rohma Sadaqat

I am a reporter and sub-editor on the Business desk at Khaleej Times. I mainly cover and write articles on the UAE's retail, hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors.Originally from Lahore, I have been living in the UAE for more than 20 years. I graduated with a BA in Mass Communication, with a concentration in Journalism, and a double minor in History and International Studies from the American University of Sharjah.If you see me out and about on assignment in Dubai, feel free to stop me, say hello, and we can chat about the latest kitten videos on YouTube.

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