UAE Cabinet launches 'Mystery Shopper' app to rate government services

'The duty of the official in any government entity is ... improving services,' Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said

An online application that allows Emiratis and residents to rate a government service was launched by the UAE Cabinet on Monday.

The app, named UAE Mystery Shopper, is available in eight languages and asks users to input information on their experiences with a service at a government office.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, announced the app on Twitter, saying the feedback would help improve government services overall.

"Every individual in our community in the UAE is a partner in improving government services, and every customer is a mystery shopper who will be the judge and the measure for the performance of any government entity and the efficiency of services it provides," he said.

"The doors of our government are open to people. The voice of the customer is always heard and his feedback is the essence of our attention and follow-up. The duty of the official in any government entity is the interaction and direct communication with people, listening openly to them in the field and improving services as per their expectations."

The app, developed by the UAE government, can be downloaded from the Google Play or App Store. Alternatively, users can scan a QR code on the website.

It is the latest in a string of measures put in place by the UAE Cabinet to improve government services.

Last year, Sheikh Mohammed announced an annual review of service centres after which he named the best and worst centres in the country.

He frequently sends "mystery shoppers" to government offices to test services. Last April, he criticised poor standards at an Emirates Post office after he was sent a picture of long queues.

"I have received a photo from a secret shopper showing the level of services in Emirates Post," he wrote on Twitter at the time.

"This is not our level. These are not our services. And whoever continues to provide such level of services will not be among my team."

He is also known for dropping in on government offices unannounced.

In 2016, Sheikh Mohammed visited the Land Department and Department of Economic Development for a spot check at the start of the working day — to find that no one had turned up for work.

But the practice began long before this decade.

On Monday, Sheikh Mohammed shared a video of himself at a conference 30 years ago saying: "You can be certain that I have anonymous reviewers in every government office."

He would send a small group of aides into government offices to pose as customers and report back. The video said this technique resulted in an overhaul and vast improvement of government services.

"We changed our practical operations. And we replaced managers with more competent ones," the video said.

"Today, we multiply our efforts to multiply the results," it said, referring to the new app.

The video called on all UAE residents and Emiratis to take part and become a mystery shopper.

The app is available in Arabic, English, Urdu, Hindi, Spanish, Chinese, French and Russian. It asks users to assess their overall experience and rate the various aspects of their experience including the location, ease of reaching it, reception, waiting time, employee behaviour, completion time and service channels.