Friday, October 5, 2012
Multinational brands in Saudi Arabia
In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a plethora of well-known multinational brands are on the market. While dining out, one can find almost any restaurant available in the United States of America. Similarly, well-known clothing brands and accessories remain available. As a matter of fact, I believe there is more available in the Kingdom when compared to the United States. But the problem is that some of these world-wide brands do not meet the same standards like I am used to. For me they’ve left a bad taste.
This weekend was no exception. Bad customer service was as always available at all the multinational brands. In one of the malls of Jeddah my wife and I decided to walk into Sephora. My wife wanted to test out the fragrance of one of the lotions. The salesperson promptly responded to her request and gave my wife a little bit of body wash to rub all over her hands. Now most if not all of you can understand what that would do. Overall I must say the sales person were professional and took care of the issue. She went to her break room, grabbed her own bottle of drinking water (complete with lipstick on the rim) and poured some onto my wives hands. The mistake is a simple human error and since she fixed the problem I have no complaints. After the final selection my wife walked up to the cash register to pay. The gentleman there refused simply stating we do not have change. It is not like we were paying SAR. 20/ item with SAR. 500/- bill. We had a 50 Riyal bill. In comparison to U.S. Dollars the change was less than $10/-. Did he ask a sales associate for help? No. Did he call for a manager? No. He simply took the lazy way out, or the stupid way out. He simply said he could not sell the product. So we left-without the product. My wife was infuriated, to say the least. But then we found “The Body Shop” where she received great service. There was also plenty of change in the register.
Another common source of frustration with international brands in the Kingdom is their inventory. Chili’s or TGI Fridays never have all the items on their menu. For the past 4 months, we have ventured into these restaurants and each time they have not had ribs. To read another good story about available items on the menu click here. So the night got more exciting when we walked in Clarks and sketchers where the items we liked were out of stock. Searching the mall to find exactly what you want and then to find out that they do not have it, just sucks. It really sucks!
Today we went to Ikea and found a computer table we liked for the kids room. In their self-serve area the table was not there. But when I looked up, I saw that it was there. I asked one of the staff members to help us get it down. He simply refused and laughed, and told us to come back in three days. Seriously?
Yes, I know that this country is different than any other place on the planet. Yes, I understand that I must be patient and that this is how their culture is run. Nevertheless, I think the multinational companies who claim to be service oriented need to stay out of the Saudi market. The manpower or the management in Saudi Arabia have little to no clue what customer service is. They do not seem to want to learn it. Granted, there are many hard-working and good-hearted Saudi men and women. However, to run a successful company, employers should train their employees how to assist their customers.