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Five (and a Half) Biggest Customer Trends in the UAE

The Five (and a Half) Biggest Customer Trends in the UAE – and What they Mean for Your Business

We asked customers in the UAE to share the biggest factors influencing who they do business with. Read this blog to find out what they are.

You don’t need to tell us: life would be a whole lot easier if you knew exactly what your customers were thinking. If you knew what they wanted, what they prioritised, and (critically) what motivates them to buy and do business with brands.

Now, we can’t give you the ability to read minds… But we can share the findings of our latest State of the Connected Customer report.

Our 2022 edition reveals what makes more than 13,000 global consumers and 4,000 business buyers tick – including over 670 respondents who live right here in the UAE.

And from that, there are five (and a half) clear customer trends to capitalise on.

Read on to learn what your customers think – and why it’s vital for you to

  • Build trust in today’s climate of uncertainty.
  • Grow loyalty in a hypercompetitive digital landscape.
  • Provide a personalised service while respecting privacy concerns.
  • Reassure customers about the use of AI.

So, ready to get closer to your customers? Let’s dive in.

State of the Connected Customer Report

Learn about attitudes to trust and loyalty, how to balance personalisation with privacy, and the best ways to engage with customers at every touchpoint.


1. In uncertain times, customers need companies they can trust

89% of UAE customers say trust becomes more important in times of change.

Considering the enormous changes of the last few years, it should come as no surprise that certainty-starved customers put a high premium on trust.

It’s a cause for concern, then, that only 49% of customers in the UAE generally trust companies. Businesses need to close that gap – but how?

Well, your customers have that bit sorted. Here’s what they think:

Win your customers’ trust and you’ll have a better chance of winning (and keeping) their business. But securing customer loyalty is about more than trust, as we’ll now see…

2. Customers are loyal to companies with great service and clear values

These days, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to deciding who and what we spend our time and money on. And loyalty is harder to secure than ever: 74% of UAE customers have switched brands at least once in the last year.

This isn’t just about better deals or product quality. Customers want to feel cared for by companies they feel some affinity with. Consider that 52% of brand-switchers cite ‘better customer service’ as a reason, and 34% chose a new provider based on shared values.

But clear principles are becoming table stakes for UAE brands, as 90% of customers expect companies to clearly state their values.

Treatment of customers (73%) and employees (62%), and environmental practices (45%) are among the values that greatly influence buying decisions.

Loyalty programs are a common strategy to deepen customer relationships, but many UAE customers aren’t feeling particularly engaged. Only 33% of loyalty program members redeem rewards on a weekly or monthly basis.

Features like automatically applied rewards and ease of tracking could help drive further engagement. But what’s particularly interesting is the 55% who say they would use loyalty programs more often if they received personalised rewards.

So rewarding loyalty is important. But as we’ll see, customers also put a ton of value on being spoken to as an individual – across every interaction.

3a. Customers want personalisation…

Customer experience is as important as it’s ever been: 92% of UAE customers agree the experience a company provides is just as important as its products and services.

But these experiences are increasingly taking place in digital environments. The mass digitalisation kick-started by the pandemic has left its mark, and 64% of customers in the UAE now prefer to engage with companies via digital channels.

And customers want that digital experience to be personal. 80% expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations, and 66% expect offers to always be personalised.

3b. …but they don’t want to give up privacy

Personalised digital experiences obviously raise questions around privacy.

In theory, UAE customers are open to having their data used to improve their experiences: 67% are comfortable with relevant personal information being used by companies transparently and beneficially.

But in practice, people feel differently. 71% told us companies aren’t transparent about how they use personal information – and 65% feel companies collect more information than they need.

Ultimately, this means only 40% of customers trust companies to respect their privacy – and just 28% completely trust them to use their personal information responsibly.

The message from customers is clear: personalise my customer experience but respect my data concerns too. (As 78% of consumers are more likely to trust companies with their personal information if its use is clearly explained to them.)

So what can you do to ensure your customers feel good about you using their data? Make sure you communicate your intentions and actions in a clear, open way.

And as we’ll go on to see, that need for transparency is amplified when it comes to using new technologies.

4. Customers are receptive to innovation (but need reassurance on AI)

UAE customers are no technophobes. Almost half (44%) have used augmented and/or virtual reality, and 58% expect to use more over the next three years.

But customers remain wary of the technology needed to deliver personalisation at scale: AI.

82% of customers are open to the use of AI to improve their experiences. However, 77% have concerns about the unethical use of AI, and 86% say AI can be a force for good or bad, depending on how it’s used.

So, how can you reassure your customers that you (and your algorithms) are doing the right thing? Again, transparency is key. Only 59% of customers understand how companies are using AI and can be forgiven for feeling uncertain about it.

Help ease your customers’ fears by getting them involved:

  • 65% would welcome more customer control over how AI is used.
  • 44% would like to see active solicitation of customer feedback.

In a world of remote digital customer relationships, it’s important to keep customers in the loop – and make sure they feel seen by your business. And this is impossible without joined-up experiences that never lose sight of who they are…

5. Customers expect joined-up experiences (and aren’t getting them)

Consistency and coherence are prerequisites of trustworthy personalised experiences. Every channel, device, and department in your customer experience needs to feel joined up.

Most UAE businesses do pretty well here: 70% of customers say experiences are generally consistent across channels and 72% say the same of devices.

The trouble starts when it comes to the question of cross-departmental experiences.

There are high rewards: 81% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments – and 90% are more loyal to companies that provide this consistency.

But what’s the reality for many UAE customers?

  • 62% feel they are communicating with separate departments, not one company.
  • 69% say they often have to repeat or re-explain the same information to different representatives.

No wonder, then, that only 29% completely trust companies to demonstrate consistency across touch-points.

One way to make sure you’re creating those consistent, customer-first journeys is by bringing all your departments together on one platform.

Using Salesforce Customer 360 to unite your teams creates that much-needed enterprise-wide visibility. It helps you give customers a seamless experience, whoever they’re speaking to. And it unlocks the secrets in your data that lead to better conversations and relevant personalisation.

So, you’ve seen what UAE customers think…

Here’s what you should do next:

  1. Use the digital channels your customers want to engage on – and experiment with the technologies they’re receptive to.
  2. …but make sure you’re using new technologies to create experiences that customers actually want.
  3. Focus on providing excellent customer service, with personalised, joined-up cross-department experiences.
  4. Provide loyalty programs that really reward loyalty – in the way your customers want to be rewarded.
  5. Remember ‘soft’ factors like clear communications, strong values, and proactive transparency around how you use customer data and technologies like AI.

And finally, now you’ve seen what customers in the UAE think, get the global view.

State of the Connected Customer Report

Now you’ve seen what’s going on in the UAE, download the full report to see what matters most to almost 17,000 consumers and business buyers across the world.


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