The Dubai Mall is a place like no other. It is the largest mall for shopping globally in reference to total area it covers and is the 6th in the world by gross leasable area. The Dubai Mall is found in Dubai, one of the confederations of the United Arab Emirates. Its significance in the UAE and globally is indisputable as it has become the place any individual would want to step into once in Dubai. This is credited to its exclusive design as well as what it offers to the customers from all around the world. It contains 1200 shops accessible via Doha Street. The Dubai Mall was opened in 2008, and since there has been influx of people from all walks of life into the mall. For instance, the mall sold sixty thousand tickets in the first 5 days for those who came to view Aquarium and Discovery Centre.
The following year, 2009, it broke records after hosting more than 37 million visitors and also attracted weekly figures of 750, 000. The number has continued to rise since the day of opening, confirmed by the fact that in 2010 the mall harbored forty seven million and in turn contributed to a twenty seven percent increase in 2009 despite the time when the world experienced the worst economic crisis since the greatest depression. Last year alone, this mega shopping centre clinched the title in world books of records as the most visited destination for leisure as well as shopping and drew over sixty five million, representing an increase of twenty percent plus compared to figure of fifty four million documented in 2011. In fact, in 2012, it exceeded the number of tourists coming to New York and completely surpassed the number of arrivals in key leisure destination sure as Niagara Falls, Times Square, and Central (Brass 2012).
The mall covers a total area equivalent to over fifty football pitches with a total surface of internal floor being 55 ha and a leasable space of 35 ha. The Dubai Mall, within five years of its existence, has managed to win awards in Mapic Cannes for employment of best lighting in an environment where retail services are offered. Its brochures also garnered 3 awards at Summit, namely, Judges Special Recognition Award, Best Art Direction and Silver Award. This multi-million mega structure enjoys the benefit of exclusive location near to an artificially created lake known as Burj Khalifa Lake (Lonsway 2012). It is located near Dubai fountains, the largest choreographed fountain system in the world. The shopping centre provides an alternative view for its customers to observe the animated performances set to music and light featuring songs from all over the world and cool instrumentals at night from 1pm to 1.30 pm daily as well as from 6pm to 10 pm during the weekdays. Therefore, apart from just harboring millions of consumers every year from all walks of life, the Dubai Mall has created more workplace in the United Arab Emirates as well as opened the area at large for the world. In fact, an individual would expect to find almost everything of his/her desire and choice in this mall as it is structured to accommodate all things in line with law of the land for customers. This include: a variety of cuisines from almost all regions of the world, games such as skating, cool music, clothes, electronics, and meeting points just to mention but a few awaiting discussion.
The Dubai Mall is a world shopping center one would describe as truly containing everything to satisfy all needs under one roof. Being a dream destination for millions, Emaar properties developers ensured that it was an exclusive and iconic structure in the world in ways of meeting the needs of consumers. This is to mean that all and sundry cannot escape noticing that most of the features present in this mall can hardly be found in others or even in some countries. Distinct designs were all made with one goal to draw customers from all parts of the world to Dubai. Customer satisfaction is enhanced in the mall by first guaranteeing the safety. It has been achieved by the establishment of a number of measures such as availability of many exits, positioning of fire extinguishers at strategic points that all can be easily seen, constant monitoring of water compartments in the mall to ensure that there is no leakage, and keeping customers out of restricted areas especially where machines are operated.
This matches literature material revealing that original design by architects and structural engineers ensured the use of materials and structures that were durable, resistant to pressure, and backed up with hard concrete walls in case of failure. The transparent glass for viewing the aquarium was tested to resist all forms of breakages and water pressure. It is for this reason that Emaar property developer sought for the best companies in the world during the construction of the Dubai Mall. This is because without proper care for consumer welfare, other secondary agenda as profit maximization is unachievable. Dubai Mall is constantly under CCTV surveillance, and metal detectors are positioned at the entrance hence safety of customers and the mall itself is a priority.
From journals, especially UEA journals, one can read of outstanding features of the mall. In the customer experience, everything turns out to have been less described since it came to light, and more measures taken by administration to ensure customer’s satisfaction are discussed below. It is important to note that these measures are confirmed in the actual experience in the mall.
Occupying 12 million square foot, the Dubai Mall offers enough space for movement without any congestion. Customers are more satisfied when they feel comfortable, especially when they carry on with their shopping and other related activities. This is well illustrated by the availability of more than fourteen thousand parking spaces for customers. As a result, customers do not feel pressured or pressed to leave their cars when coming for shopping. Besides, all classes of people can be accommodated in the mall; the ones driving and the ones that are not. Adequate free environment has also been enhanced by large walking lanes, signs and directions. In fact, the design is not complex with many through ways that can make a person get lost. It is a simple open runway around the mall which traces back to where it began. Store locators are an application on their website that ensures customers find directions easily.
Being a place with unique features characterized by sophisticated technologies and activities that require specialized knowledge, Dubai Mall has a large number of employees ranging from security to attendants for consumer satisfaction purposes. Even though individual shop owners take the initiative of employing their own workers, the administration is responsible for employees dealing with activities that concern day-to-day operations of the mall. In other cases, services of different companies are employed to manage various sectors. For example, Wall street Journal indicates that Aquarium is by Oceanis Australia Group, which ensures marine policies are adhered to all the time and the animals in the aquarium are fed and provided with standard living conditions. Reel Cinemas are operated by Reel Entertainment LLC, a joint venture between a property developer and Cathay Organization Holdings in Singapore. There are also guides to take customers to various scenarios around the building as well as trainees who help those involved in skating (Lonsway 2012).
Professionalism is a key quality noticeable in employees. During recruitment, the Human Resource department has a tendency of dealing with companies by establishing a working contract with them. This ensures that customers are serviced with necessary skills to get jobs done. For example, Wildlife sector normally assist in managing underground zoo and thus ensuring the safety of customers. Thousands of workers in the mall are well trained to handle people of different cultures, tastes and preferences. In fact, some are interpreters while others originate from far cultures hence can also converse with them. The level of professionalism at which service delivery is guaranteed in this mall oozes out of the quest to deal with customers of high social status and class. The mall is visited by all types of people such as celebrities, government leaders, businessmen, diplomats, tourists, foreign leaders, and ordinary citizens as well. Dubai mall being next to Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world that houses high profile people (wealthy class), provides the best shopping destination for individuals who reside there hence the administration is always prepared to meet the expectations of such customers.
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The mall is always under constant communication with its customers to ensure their safety and give directions as well as announcements. In respect to that, two anchor tenants are employed through administration. Visual communication through large screens on the entrance, billboards and video keep customers informed through adverts about new services offered as well as any new store in the mall. Information centre is right at the entrance with trained employees ready to provide all kinds of information relevant to the customers’ smooth stay there. Good communication network through loud speakers and billboards ensures that customers never waste time while in the mall since open places are always advertised on the screen. According to the Wall Street Journal, internal mobile phone coverage is guaranteed while inside the mall having been commissioned by Motorola Dubai hence customers never strain to communicate on their cell phones outside the mall. This is an absolute truth experienced within the mall.
This being a modern mall constructed in the 21st century, the use of technology in communication, advertisement, sales and marketing, entertainment and service design form basic components of operations. For communications, their website, thedubaimall.com, has been a quintessential way of communicating with customers from all over the world. It also features information regarding most of the services and shops in the mall. Customers are able to book hotels or even order their goods online. The website is exclusively designed in such a way that finding a product being sold within the mall using goggle or yahoo search engine is a walk in the park. Technology has mainly been used in service creation and product design to attract consumers. For instance, creation and maintenance of the aquarium, indoor theme park, and ice rink, which uses plant refrigeration technology, was only possible by using exclusive technologies, and these, for the past five years, can be credited to have been the major factors attracting customers from all over the world.
Service variety enhanced by technology is the principal factor that has made the mall to be what it means to the world in this century. The foundation of this was the urge to do something different from what already exists today. The United Arab Emirates has broken some of the world records in terms of size of structures and flow of people in its cities. For instance, world tallest building Burji Khalifa in just few meters away from the mall and the Dubai Mall itself are the biggest in the world surpassing South China Mall that is the largest in terms of gross leasable space. Dubai aquarium and under water zoo provide eye-catching scenes that customers never experience in any other place in the world. Holding the title in Guinness World Record as the largest Acrylic Panel every built, it’s larger than Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan (Stefania, 2010). With thickness of its viewing panel, the aquarium can be able to withstand pressure of ten million liters of water. It contains over 85 species of animals that include more than 400 sharks and rays put together. Its transparency gives a perfect view for customers of more than thirty three thousand marine animals displayed. This is one of the most spoken features in the mall, and every person in Dubai always wants to have a taste of the view. The two hundred and seventy degree acrylic walkthrough tunnel offers fantastic close-encounter with some of the captivating underwater animals. The beauty of the place is enhanced by ‘lunar-cyclic’ lighting system, which constantly transforms the ambience of the tank in accordance to specific time of the day. Such an exclusive design was meant to give customers a great experience within the mall. In fact, in documentary made showing construction of the mall, the chairman of Emaar properties was quoted saying, “I cannot wait to see the look and ecstasy on the face of the children when they see sharks at a close rang” (Lonsway 2012). It all points to one direction that all the millions of dollars spent on this project were for enhancing a better consumer experience.
Indisputably, no other place in the United Arab Emirates can one be shopping while enjoying a view of monster turtle in aquarium at the same time. Exuberant view in the shopping center is also enhanced by existence of cool environment along rocky shore, rainforest and Living Ocean at the underwater zoo. This enables customers to have a thrilling aquatic experience with dangerous Giant Catfish, Penguin colony and playful otters among others. Another creation for customers in this mall is Dubai Ice Rink size of Olympic one meant to host up to 2,000 guests when transformed into a multi-functional hall with multimedia system such as LED screen measuring twenty by ten metres. Ice rink is an awesome top-class facility that brings 1st ever Olympic-sized ice rink to a place where people thought it was impossible. It offers more than 1800 pairs of skates meant to fit customers ranging from children to adults. Customers are also able to enjoy themed nights, hockey matches, figure skating lessons, and learn to skate programs. The ice ink continues to enhance cutting-edge experience continually as ice-bed consistency is maintained by the use of advanced refrigerator technology, which pushes glycol into a network of pipes and monitors cooling process for 5-6 days. The ice-bed is tailored in a way that it can perfectly withstand a number of activities in a safe environment (Lonsway 2012).
Discussing huge variety of services for customers is not complete without bringing up reel cinemas. Reel cinema (largest cinemas in the UAE) on the level 2 features 22 screens with up to 2800 seats. This also includes THX-certified cinemas in the United Arab Emirates. The Picture House in the mall is the first ever cinema hall to air critically acclaimed movies. As an individual, I came across all these in Lonsway publication, but the experience in the cinema halls made everything written an understatement.
Customer satisfaction being a priority in Dubai mall, the management set measures to determine whether its customers are ever happy. A firmly rooted customer care department is always in constant contact with clients directly and indirectly to obtain feedback. The first way of doing this is by questionnaires. They are used to collect data about service delivery from customers’ perspectives more targeting buyers from developed countries such as the U.S., who are able to make worth comparisons, and first time visitors. Customer care also determines the level of customer satisfaction by analyzing raw data. Firstly, this includes recording the number of customers who have registered complains per weeks and monitoring either increase or decrease in the trend. Secondly, observations of the trend in number of people visiting during certain periods of time when expectations are defined help provide right information. An increase would then be interpreted as satisfaction. Thirdly, customer care interviews store managers who are in constant physical contact with customers to arrive at conclusive facts. Carrying out scientific research has also proven to the administration effective in understanding the psychology of consumers.
After measuring customer satisfaction, effective steps are taken immediately to deal with emerging issues in order to retain the clients. For instance, after noting immense increase in number of visitors flowing into the mall worldwide, Emaar Malls Group have already commenced expansion of the mall in order to accommodate more customers and increase the variety of services offered. According to publication by a consumer watch organization in the UAE, Dubai Mall performs exemplary in follow up programs and activities on consumers. Comparing to experience in the mall, nothing but the truth comes out since customers receive constant emails asking about whether they found everything they wanted.
Emaar Malls Group always employs the best people who are enthusiastic, energetic, and good team players who take delight in working in challenging environment for the success and rapid growth of the organization. Despite not being an employee hence making it difficult to know, a literature material on Human resource activities in the mall provided enough information. Experience of interacting with one high ranked employee confirmed every piece of word that it is a customer-focused company. According to the HR document, the Dubai Mall offers regular training for new employees on ways of delivering excellent services for the many customers. Two seminars are normally held annually when the purpose of the administration is to interact and bond with employees, evaluate performance, reward best performers and equip them with skills and information especially about emerging trends and change in technology, tastes and preferences as well as new mechanisms of operation. The company normally empowers supervisors, sector managers, company technocrats, and heads of departments such as Customer Care and Security among others. Providing all employees at any cost with all tools and resources they need to achieve the goals of the company and customer satisfaction within the given time limit is the prioritized empowerment strategy applied by Emaar Malls Group.
The first strategy used in respect to common challenges that are bound to prevail in any organization experiencing massive inflow of customers is prevention. Emaar Malls Group assigns employees with exclusive skills and knowledge to specific class and type of customers. For instance, government leaders, officials, key guests and parties requiring special treatment are handled by more experienced and skilled employees to avoid errors and mistakes. Nevertheless, when a customer is angry, the manager becomes the one to handle such cases face to face. In extreme cases like loss of property and accidents, victims are taken to exclusive customer care rooms for interviews and talks to establish the cause of the problem.
Observing rules and regulations in the mall is something that is also adhered to in dealing with customers. Strict measures are always taken in handling those who never hearken to rules and regulations. In some instances, security is left to handle them, and in extreme cases, they are given to the police. Furthermore, presence of CCTV surveillance throughout the mall has made it easy for security to observe movements and individual actions of customers. These provide enough evidence and required answers in handling cases and establishing the roots of a particular matter. When it is employee misconduct or a customer is harassed in a given shop, strict measures are normally employed.
The company has a website where all the shops and services offered are listed. Customers can easily place orders online to purchase commodities and have them delivered to their doorstep. Buyers are supplied with MasterCard, which gives them a chance to win flamboyant prizes from the mall. This includes items such as food, clothes, jewelers, cars, and electronics just to mention a few. This has quickened service delivery and prevented long queues. Online advertisements and payments are also made possible, and, as a result, customers are able to access all information regarding the product timely enough. A person can also book hotels and make reservations without having to appear physically in the mall. The use of credit cards has also been made possible. Tickets are also sold online, especially for customers who intend to watch movies thus helping to prevent any possibility of congestions. The use of technology especially in product and service creation as discussed above in aquariums, ice tanks, and underground zoo is the order of the day owing to the fact that it is a mall constructed at the peak of modernity. Comparing these findings to the information in the Dubai Mall Magazine, one can tell that literature materials never tell it all. The magazine directs customers to find more information as well as methods of payments and discounts in different shops on the website. Walking in the shops gives a better insight of all these.
Use of technology in e-marketing has made pricing relatively high for ordinary citizens. This has made the mall a place mostly inhabited by rich. Moreover, illiterate individuals cannot easily fit in, or they find difficulty finding their way across the mall. In case of failure of a machine, the aftermath can be extremely detrimental. Comparing to the publication on the Washington Post, the mall was once temporarily evacuated following a leakage from aquarium. This further indicates the negative side of technology in the mall.
In summary, the Dubai Mall is a customer-focused company whose main goal is to ensure that customers from all over the world enjoy a cutting-edge experience. The company takes pride in large national and multi-ethnic workforce whose commitment has seen them resilient working in challenging environments. With ongoing expansion to accommodate more than 100 million customers annually, the Dubai Mall would certainly remain to be the world’s largest shopping and entertainment destination. Comparison with literature publications, online posts, and books shows that customers’ care and treatment is a major focus of the company, and personal experience confirms all the claims.