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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

School of Government happiness diploma sees bureaucracy make way for hospitality

A trailblazing new professional diploma in customer happiness offered by the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government has been designed by local experts to offer 'seven-star service' and is attracting students from branches of government from across the country.

The move to increase the efficiency of government servants will hasten the pace of the UAE's development, readers say. Antonie Robertson / The National
The move to increase the efficiency of government servants will hasten the pace of the UAE's development, readers say. Antonie Robertson / The National

Imagine entering a government office and receiving the same level of sophisticated service that you would expect at a luxurious, seven-star hotel. No queues. No waiting. Bureaucrats anticipating your every official need. Business delivered dutifully with a warm smile and maybe even topped with a chocolate square in a shiny wrapper.

The scenario may not be far off thanks to the government’s ongoing efforts to elevate the quality of public service and a trailblazing new professional diploma in customer happiness offered by the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government.

The diploma programme launched this summer as part of a pilot involving staff from Dubai’s Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department. Since announcing the course’s debut last month, the school, which is based at Dubai World Trade Centre, has received numerous inquiries from government agencies across the country seeking to train their staff in customer happiness.

“Happiness is big on the agenda, so we put a group of our experts together and asked them to develop a programme that can support that,” said Prof Raed Awamleh, dean of the MBRSG.

“This actually stemmed from Sheikh Mohammed’s statement a few years ago when he talked about, ‘I want government service to be like the service you get at seven-star hotels’.”

The programme is unique because it was designed by local experts, said Prof Awamleh.

“The experts who developed it are not only familiar with international standards, familiar with the practice, but they know the local environment,” he said.

“They know the culture, they know the environment, they know our customers’ needs, they know what people who go to service centres face in terms of challenges. They understand the happiness philosophy and the happiness initiative – all that put together makes it a unique programme, the first of its kind.”

The curriculum is delivered over four sessions focusing on four components of customer happiness: an introduction to the UAE’s seven-star government service rating system and its applications; international best practices and their role in improving customer satisfaction; the fundamentals of customer service as defined by the fourth generation of the UAE Government excellence system; and the role of creativity and innovation in customer happiness. As a final project, students will have to visit a government office, assess the quality of its services related to customer happiness and present their findings and recommendations to officials. Classes for the inaugural programme were delivered in Arabic but Prof Awamleh said the school is working on designing an English version that he hopes will be available later this year for open enrolment.

Dr Hassan Khudair, who taught the professional diploma programme, said students who take the class will get an enriched understanding of the UAE’s unique customer happiness goals.

“The main objective of this course is to teach them about customer service in the government sector and how it is linked to the new model of excellence in the government,” said Dr Khudair. “The government entities exist to serve the community and the customer. So the measurement for how good they are is reflected by how good they serve the community and the customers.”

Hind Lootah, director of Mohammad bin Rashid Islamic Cultural Centre, was among the 20 students in the first class. She praised the programme for raising the students’ appreciation for the value of the customer.

“I feel like everybody should take this - from the leadership to the employee - because the employees, they are the ones dealing face-to-face with the customer,” said Ms Lootah.

Suad Al Khaja, a student and awareness specialist at Dubai’s Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department, said: “The main thing is to make people happy. This is our aim. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said his aim is to make everybody happy in Dubai and in the UAE. So we have to support him in that and to learn the special methods and to have the facilities to do that.”

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