The Running Commentary


My customer service hobby horse again

I wonder why it is that so many South Africans are happy to settle for poor customer service. It seems that we are completely paralysed when it comes to taking on businesses when they deliver poor service.

Let me quickly add that we are not afraid to bleat about it to others, but we seem unable to talk about the experience to the supplier. I get a raft of excuses when I challenge folk about this.  Most of the time the response I get is “well nothing really changes” If you say nothing to the business, then they are not able to change anything. The other favourite response is “that is how they treat their clients” 

If you are not willing to talk to the business about their poor service, then don’t expect your experience to change.  If you are happy to endure bad service, you simply make it worse for everyone.

Now to those who do talk about poor service, without allowing the brands to respond stop it! Cut it out. If your intention is to bleat for the sake of fame, you are wasting everyone’s time. I see a raft of these complaints in various channels and when the brand responds requesting details, they get given none.  Some people simply say things like “the damage you have done cannot be remedied” I am not sure that this is the correct approach.

This post though is about South African’s general inability to tackle their suppliers around the service they do receive.  I think that we need to breed a culture of accountability back into our suppliers. If you receive bad service then talk to the brand about it. Don’t settle for mediocre service levels, you are the customer, you are parting (in most cases anyway) with your hard earned cash. You should never feel like you have been cheated, or that the experience has not been worth the money that you paid for it.

A case in point for me is my choice of certain outlets. I prefer, for example, to shop at Pick n Pay in Constantia Village, despite there being several other stores closer to me. Why? They simply seem to have friendlier staff. Equally, the staff at Woolworths in the same centre are, remarkably more friendly than at other stores.

We choose based on our experiences, and I bet you that you would return to a brand if they took pride in delivering great service, but more importantly great customer care after the fact. A challenge to the businesses, before I close, do you have the right customer facing people. These appointments must rank as some of the most important decisions you make. I fear, after experiencing a lot of indifference out there, that many of you have not recruited or trained your people correctly.

So I challenge you the consumer, when you experience poor service, talk to the brand about it. If they do not respond correctly then vote with you cash and leave them. It won’t be long before they come to their senses.

brandsCustomer Facingcustomer serviceExperienceMoneyshoppingstaff

Mike • February 16, 2011

Previous Post

Next Post


  1. Lauren C February 16, 2011 - 11:44 am

    I like the post & agree with you. My only comment would be that it is not restricted to South Africa by any means. Every time my English partner comes to SA, he comments on the remarkably high level of service in comparison to the UK – this is especially evident in the hospitality & retail industries.

    I think that South Africans are more willing to call a manager over and explain why they feel they are being treated poorly than many other nationalities are. We are not afraid of getting stroppy, when it is justified!

    I am ashamed to say that, although I still complain in SA if I receive poor service, in England I’ve become so used to bad service & outright rude staff (especially in major retailers like Tesco & Sainsburys) that I don’t even bother anymore.

    The important thing is for all of us to do what you suggest in the post & keep complaining if we receive poor service (not forgetting, of course, to compliment good service as well!) otherwise we’ll reach a point where, like England, the customers are too apathetic to say anything and the retailers are too big to care.

  2. Tweets that mention My customer service hobby horse again | The Running Commentary --

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.