This is too obvious, but most businesses in the country exist to provide us - the customers - with goods and services. Since we the customers are the reason behind any established business, it just makes sense to treat us well.
We may be cranky, not always right, but we are always the customers — the ones with the money.
So why do so many companies in the UAE make it hard for us to do business with them?
On a recent trip to England, I discovered that my phone's SIM card stopped working the minute I landed at Manchester's Airport. I could not connect to any network providers.
I subscribe to an international service and a contract service, to keep in touch with my clients and keep track of my business developments. The phone failure was not to my advantage.
So I called my service provider's emergency number from my sister's phone. It took them several minutes to answer, and then several additional minutes to understand what was wrong with my phone.
They promised me it would be working in the next few hours and I just had to wait.
My wait extended to more than two weeks, and every time I called to check the status of my request, I was informed that my complaint had not been registered, and they had to re-submit it, get their manager to check what was wrong, and would call me back.
I did not receive one call back from them.
My BlackBerry ended up being a vegetable and of absolutely no use, since it was also locked by the same providers, which forced me to purchase a new unlocked phone for my UK stay, and a domestic SIM card to keep in touch with my family and friends.
The whole thing was just a big mess. I missed out on important emails and calls.
The funny part is that weeks after my return home I received a call from the customer service centre, asking me if I had registered a complaint regarding my phone's network problem.
Apart from phone services, my mother always complains about many national airlines' and banks' customer service centres.
Almost every time after placing her call, the automated system provides her an option of dialling 1 to speak to an Arabic employee. After pressing the button, she ends up speaking to a non-Arab with a heavy accent that she does not comprehend. She apologises, shuts the phone, and nags about how there are no Arabic speakers in an Arab country.
Customer service complaints almost always concern misinformation, lack of understanding and multiple-option menus that are supposed to provide a better service.
We all know automated systems are cost-effective for most companies, but a customer's time is highly valuable as well, and should not be wasted by punching numerous buttons when he or she could be facing an emergency and needs to speak to a professional immediately.
More and more, customer service providers are becoming hands-off rather than a helping hand, and many of my friends would only call a service centre as a last resort.
However, we cannot ignore the other, perfectly good customer service providers in the country.
In Ramadan's popular show Khawater, the TV presenter Ahmed Al Shugairi shared with his viewers the excellent customer services provided in Dubai Courts.
The court provides, free of charge, translators of more than 20 languages for its clients, to aid them with court procedures. In addition, the customer service representatives also speak many languages, and answer incoming phone calls in less than 30 seconds.
Moreover, to ensure their employees are comfortable and provide the best service, given they work long hours and take many phone calls while remaining more or less stationary, the court has provided the department with stress-relief massage chairs.
I believe this is an outstanding initiative. Not only should the customer's comfort be ensured, but also that of employees. If employees' satisfaction and comfort are addressed, it promotes better performance meaning customers are more likely to be treated well and have their needs satisfactorily met.
Here's a simple suggestion for all businesses, old and new: when offering customer services, make sure that all representatives can actually provide the service to the customer.
Do not promise things you cannot deliver. Also make sure to call customers back when you say you will - they will be waiting and most probably will not forget it if you do not do what you say you will do.
When customers' issues are not catered for and they do not receive adequate answers, the end result is they are more angry than they were when they called for help in the first place. It also creates a bad reputation and that can adversely affect the relationship between the company and its existing and potential clients.
A friend of mine who received poor customer service with a newly established Emirati bank ended up closing her account — and convincing all her friends to not open accounts there, regardless of the tempting offers provided. So because of one bad incident, the bank has lost many potential clients.
Good customer services across all companies should be the norm, not a rarity. Companies that respect their customers will be more likely to earn their respect and commitment - the perfect product trade-off.
Manar Al Hinai, an Emirati, is a fashion designer and writer based in Abu Dhabi. She was recently named an Arab Woman of the Year.