Customer engagement in the UAE has shifted dramatically since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On one hand, there’s a new reality, with new rules for remaining relevant and sustaining customer engagement in the UAE. We’re in a new landscape with an added importance on creating emotional connections between brands and customers. 

On the other, some things that were already important have become even more critical. For instance, the need for trust in the midst of turmoil.


The new conditions of customer engagement in the UAE

Being perceived as trustworthy is clearly more critical than ever. Especially at a time when customers — consumers and business buyers alike — are feeling vulnerable, in all kinds of ways.

Customers in the UAE are no exception. In fact, they have significantly higher expectations (as compared with the global average) of trustworthiness from the brands they deal with.

So what can brands do to inspire wholehearted customer engagement in the UAE?

In this post, we’re breaking down the key insights from our latest State of the Connected Customer (4th Edition). In the survey, more than 15,000 consumers and business buyers worldwide were asked how their attitudes and values have changed as a result of the pandemic.

Their answers indicate that customers across the world want digital-first convenience and expect brand innovation. They also believe that how a company acts during troubled times reveals its trustworthiness.

Listening carefully to customers and pivoting to meet new expectations will be key to staying relevant and emerging stronger.

Let’s dive into what’s driving customer engagement in the UAE.


Four snapshots of the new UAE consumer

There’s been a dramatic shift to digital

The global shift to digital-first lifestyles is particularly evident in the UAE:

  • 84% of consumers expect to spend more time online (vs 58% globally) 

  • 76% say the pandemic is changing their relationship with technology (vs 58% globally)

Consumers in the UAE Who Believe the Following:

Given the importance of trust, it’s interesting to note that consumers in the UAE are far more likely to say that their level of trust has risen as a result of a company’s response to the crisis (68% vs the global average of just 47%). There’s clearly an opportunity for brands to earn valuable trust by responding swiftly and empathetically to consumer needs.


They are omnichannel naturals

Consumers in the UAE are turning to a huge array of communication channels. And in significantly larger numbers than the global average.

Consumers in the UAE Using the Following Channels:

Customers worldwide are using an average of nine communication channels to browse inventory, seek advice, and make purchases. More than half the UAE consumers surveyed use 11 communication channels.

Providing more options for consumers to reach you while ensuring seamless switching between communication channels is a powerful differentiator.

This is likely to be even more so among digitally savvy UAE consumers. We found that they have greater comfort with voice assistants (45% vs a global average of just 24%) and video chat (40% vs a global average of 25%).


They refuse to settle for impersonal engagement

Like consumers everywhere, those in the UAE prefer personalised products and services. But what really sets them apart is their expectation of consistent interactions across departments: 85% compared to the global average of 75%.

Given the huge array of communication channels they favour, it’s clearly crucial to ensure a seamless omnichannel experience. Businesses should also develop a comprehensive understanding of their customer’s history, interests, and frustrations.


Businesses should earn trust through innovation

A particular area of concern for consumers in the UAE is trustworthiness. 75% believe there’s a major need for businesses to improve their trustworthiness (compared with just 60% of consumers globally).

There’s also a strong desire for businesses to improve their service/support, technology, and products and services. In each of these areas, approximately 50% more consumers in the UAE say they want to see improvement (as compared with the global average).


The new face of the UAE business buyer

They’re digitally savvy

The vast majority prefer to reach out via a mobile app or online chat/support.

They’re also significantly more likely than consumers to say that the pandemic has changed their relationship to technology: 92% vs 76% of UAE consumers. And they’re much more likely to make this claim than other business customers globally. 

What’s more, 90% report that how they engage with companies and obtain goods and services has been transformed by the pandemic.

They’re overwhelmingly experience driven

Sales reps are falling short of business buyers’ expectations by failing to understand their unique challenges and goals, and pushing products over solutions.

There’s an obvious need to prioritise customer empathy, and this is especially so in the UAE where 93% of business buyers (vs. 85% globally) say experience is as important as products and services.

Relationships drive consumer purchases

We discovered that 93% of business buyers in the UAE are more likely to buy from a company that shows it understands their business goals (vs 84% globally). What’s more, they’re thinking about more than the bottom line: 80% say vendor ethics increasingly factors into purchasing decisions. 

Sadly, there’s a strong perception among business buyers in the UAE that sales reps are failing to act as trusted advisers and lack adequate knowledge of their businesses.


Prioritising customer engagement in the UAE during crisis

Enabling customers to connect seamlessly across various communication channels is central to the trusted and convenient experiences customers demand, especially in uncertain times. So it’s essential to provide salespeople, customer service agents, and other individuals with the same context and information. 

To get up to speed with the new rules of customer engagement in the UAE and how to connect with hyper-connected customers, get our State of the Connected Customer report now.