Customer service is a continuous rant fest for us in Dubai. It’s rarely good, but mostly appalling. The Managers don’t care, the serving staff are clueless. Supposedly we can complain to the Trading Standards here but no one I know has ever had a response from them.
However, there are moments of such amazing service that it makes you feel like you are on cloud 9.
Here are four of my recent picks and how they have treated me and my friends:
1. Izel Dubai, Conrad Dubai
My friend and I went to Izel recently. The restaurant/bar is a South American fusion restaurant with a Happy Hour on Wednesday and live music.
We hadn’t booked a table beforehand but walked in and were advised by the hostess, that they could definitely give us a table. As the restaurant hadn’t opened yet, they asked us to sit on their comfortable chairs at the bar and order from the Happy Hour Menu. When the table was ready, the friendly waiter took us to the table and passed us over to our new waiter.
The food was lovely, but it was the attention of the staff that made my day. My friend had ordered a glass of wine from the knowledgeable Sommelier. He returned during our meal to check she was happy with her drink and we were happy with our meal generally. The waiter of course was attentive during the meal but left us to chat alone. We also had the Operations Manager come and introduce himself and ask if all was fine. We were not anyone featured in Ahlan or famous, just two ladies catching up. It was a nice gesture.
When we left, the hostess asked us about our experience. We did mention that the toilets were really dark and that it would be nice if we could see the toilet paper. She agreed with us and said that she would advise the management as they were renovating the restaurant during the Summer. They might not listen to our advice, but acknowledging it was nice of them.
In the lift, the Chef held the door for us and said bye when we left. Small thing but really nice.
We missed the music (which I have heard is really loud) but we had a lovely, relaxed visit to the restaurant.
2. GQ Bar – JW Mariott Marquis
A few weeks ago a group of friends and I booked a table for drinks at the GQ Bar. I had forgotten to mention we needed a smoking table when booking. Oops.
As normal I was the first to arrive, so the hostess suggested that I sit in the bar area, and then when my friends had arrived, we could move to our table. When our party arrived, we realised that we were going to be seated in the non-smoking restaurant area. We asked if it was possible to be moved to the comfy seat area in the bar. The hostess said “no problem”, shuffled the reserved areas around and fitted us four in a corner section with no hassle. During the shuffling I had mentioned to the hostess that I was disappointed by the bar men not being so hawt as expected (I had been told they would be hawt as it’s the GQ Bar!). She laughed.
Later on, I checked us in on Foursquare. Within a short while, the Acting Manager of the bar came to our table with mini drinks and asked us how our night was. Turned out that the bar’s twitter handle is linked to the Foursquare account, so they knew instantly when I had Foursquared and thanked us with the drinks. Lovely gesture. He had also talked to the hostess and asked me about my views of the bar men (my friends were embarrassed of me by then) and asked me to return in a few weeks to check the new staff who were joining :D. When we left they both said bye to us at the door.
Two weeks later I returned to the bar for a networking event. At the door, the same hostess was there and she recognised me! Little ole me! She even asked where my friends were. That night the bar man who served me was so hawt and really good at making the drinks. I told the nice hostess to inform that Manager that I was impressed :).
It sounds stupid but in this superficial, Ahlan loving, celeb wannabe town, it’s nice to be treated like someone by staff even when we are not any of the above.
Also, to have great service is such a rarity that it makes the night even more special when it is amazing.
7pm – I ordered KFC (I’m sick today, KFC is my cure – don’t judge me). They knew my normal order. I was impressed.
8.05pm – I called and asked about my food. Was told that the operator would call me back once she found out where the food was.
8.24pm – Called again. The operator said that the KFC Motor City were not answering their calls. They couldn’t find out where my food was. Told her to cancel the order and to tell the manager to call me.
8.38pm – Driver calls and says he is near my villa (I live in an apartment – the address even says Flat…). Told him to turn around and get the Manager to call me.
8.47pm – Manager calls me. Told him of my disappointment. His response was that their internet was down and they were taking orders by telephone. I politely told him that the operational processes in the restaurant were not my problem. I ordered food the correct way, I expected food within half an hour. He kept making excuses.
There was no offer of giving me a voucher to use for next time as an apology. No offer of anything.
No profuse apologies.
His view was that as his operations system was down, it was my problem and I had to accept it. He said he would take my order now. I told him that I had ordered from elsewhere as I was so hungry.
The way he talked to me was sooooo arrogant that infuriated me more.
I advised him that his behaviour was unacceptable and that I would be informing all on social media. He didn’t care. That was the end of the conversation.
I won’t be ordering from them again.
Update 19 June 2014:
A KFC Manager called to apologise profusely and also confirm that the excuse about the system was actually not true. They were very angry at what happened to me and they were sincere in their apologies. As a gesture of goodwill they delivered lunch to me (and the Manager of Motory City called to check all was fine when the delivery man arrived). I will be ordering from them again.
4. Clinton Bakery Cafe – Downtown Dubai.
Two of my lovely friends are leaving Dubai. They are having several Tweetups. This was one tweetup they set up for breakfast on Friday.
a. 3 of us entered and asked for the 6 person booth.
b. The waitress said she would have to ask the Manager if we could have booth as we couldn’t get a table unless all of our party had arrived. (I must add at this point – I had to leave after an hour and we didn’t know when exactly the rest of the party would arrive, but it would be soon).
c. Manager came to front, ignored us. Said in a nasty tone to the waitress, that we couldn’t have a table until our party arrived. At no point did he talk to us the customers, he just spoke about us to the waitress.
d. I told the waitress to just give us a table for 3 of us as I had to go. Told the Manager as well, he turned away from me.
e. Within 10 minutes 3 more people arrived. We got a booth.
f. I left.
g. My friend Khaled Akbik and his wife turned up after me. Here is his story of what happened when he entered, in his own words:
“I went a bit late to a friend’s farewell gathering this morning at Clinton Street Baking Company, Dubai. It was my first experience there and the place looked lovely and promising. I was looking forward to having a nice cup of coffee and a delicious breakfast.
My friends had already finished their breakfast when I arrived and some were still sipping on their coffees and shakes. When I called in the waiter to give him my order I was politely told that we can’t order anymore because there are others waiting for a table!! When we argued with him he called in his manager who was somewhat rude. He said there are others waiting and implied that we had exhausted our time on the table and that it would take long now for them to make a new meal, serve it and for me to take my time eating it!!
This was the first time I witness such a behaviour from a restaurant’s staff, let alone the manager, who is supposed to be accommodating to say the least.
When a restaurant puts the interest of incoming customers more than existing ones; is practically saying, you came, we served you, you paid us, now leave….we got our money from you, off to the next one.
That is not a way to run a business and needless to say, despite the apparent popularity of this restaurant, I won’t be going there ever again.”
Now yes, it was Friday, it was busy and people were waiting for the table but we had ordered a lot and still were going to order in our group. But the main issue was the Manager. I saw how he spoke to people or didn’t speak to us. He was a nasty human being.
The food was nice, but expensive for what it was. If we had been treated like humans I would go again but after being treated so appallingly, continuously by the Manager I have no desire to return until I know he has left.
The chain might be big in New York but this is not New York and you don’t treat people like this.
Update 19 June 2016 – nothing.
This is a small pool of good and bad customer service. I could go on but it would take days to write. Where have you been that has been amazing or appalling with regards to customer service?