To guarantee that customers all over the world have free access and sufficient opportunities to contact its customer service in a convenient and cheap way, the company has developed a reliable system of integrate customer relationship processes. “A collaborative team – Marks & Spencer, Accenture, Siebel and Microsoft – worked to create Marks & Spencer’s integrated customer relationship management processes and system built on Siebel’s eBusiness Applications.
Regardless the location, every customer service operator is given an access to each customer’s purchasing history prior to answering the call. Moreover, the new technological system makes it possible for Marks & Spencer to resolve customer requests in fast and consistent manner (Accenture 2009). The new system works in ways that enhance the quality of all customer relationships, intelligently route all calls, synchronize order and customer information, and integrates a range of different services provided by the members of Marks & Spencer’s customer service team.
In case of Bhs, the scope of its customer relationships is limited to a well-developed policy which customer can access from the official Bhs website. Bhs’s customers in UAE can also search through the list of the most Frequently Asked Questions or become familiar with Bhs franchise opportunities. Given the growing role of online purchases and the increasing access of UAE citizens to various types of online services, it is natural that Bhs pays special attention to the development and implementation of refund services as a part of its customer relationship strategy.
Bhs guarantees “to refund any item you are not completely happy with when you return it to us within 28 days of receipt. Items can be returned to a store, by post or by courier” (Bhs 2009). With the aim to increase the effectiveness of all customer operations, Bhs provides its Middle Eastern customers with an opportunity to choose between making purchases online or visiting its official stores, and in this context customers are given a whole list of specifications and limitations regarding the accessible and permitted methods of payment.
All specifications and guidelines are delivered in a simple and comprehensible way, to avoid ambiguity and misunderstanding when interpreting and analyzing conflict situations. With the desire to explore the impressions customers have towards both Bhs and Marks & Spencer stores in the UAE, we have designed a set of questionnaires, to obtain primary customer information and to look deeper into the essence of Marks & Spencer’s and Bhs’s brand image in the Middle East.
The questions which Marks & Spencer and Bhs visitors were asked included: Do you like Marks & Spencer (Bhs) products? Are you a permanent customer? What factors predetermine your positive attitudes toward Marks & Spencer’s (Bhs) products? What can you say about the quality of their customer service? Did you have any problems with purchasing or requesting refund for the goods bought either from Marks & Spencer or Bhs? As a result of the detailed primary analysis, we have come to conclude that only 40% of respondents can readily call them permanent customers.
For many of them Marks & Spencer and Bhs are the two stores which they visit occasionally without any definite aim to make a purchase. Among the factors that make customers choose Marks & Spencer or Bhs high quality customer service and the combination of good quality and reasonable prices were the most important. Finally, none of the respondents could remember having any problems or refund conflicts with either of the two companies. It is very probable that customers might have intentionally avoided speaking about problematic situations.
15% of respondents have also recognized the growing wish to make online purchases from either of the two companies, suggesting that online retail market is likely to become the source of increasing profits for UAE and the Middle East in the coming decades. Conclusion Marks & Spencer and Bhs remain the two most popular British fashion brands in the UAE. With the expanding online opportunities, improving quality of wellbeing, and the growing population, the UAE is experiencing rapid growth of its retail markets.
International fashion brands actively participate in various types of advertising campaigns to expand their presence in Middle Eastern markets and to ensure that they can incorporate the principles of their marketing strategy with the cultural and marketing beliefs and principles of UAE consumers. For Marks & Spencer and Bhs, the UAE has become the source of increasing profits, but despite their successes and market achievements, both companies still leave much room for business and marketing improvements.
These primarily stem from the areas of customer relations, logistics, and advertising. As a result, what both companies currently need is to promote their brand images in ways that would suit specific cultural beliefs of UAE consumers and provide them with a better understanding of the benefits and cost effectiveness of Marks & Spencer’s and Bhs’s products. References Accenture 2009, Marks & Spencer: Customer relationship management solution, White Paper. Bhs 2007, ‘Bhs sees profits plummet’, Fashion United, accessed online 16 April 2009.
http://www. fashionunited. co. uk/news/bhs. htm Bhs 2009, ‘Modern living made easy’, Bhs, accessed online 16 April, 2009. http://www. bhs. co. uk/ Dubai City Guide 2009, ‘UAE’s largest topshop and topman store opens in Dubai mall’, Dubai City Guide, accessed online 16 April 2009 http://www. dubaicityguide. com/geninfo/news_dtls. asp? newsid=23616 Dubai City Info 2009, ‘Marks & Spencer Al-Futtaim opens 7th UAE store in Al Ain’s prestigious Bawadi Mall’, Dubai City Info, accessed online 16 April 2009.