Do South Africans really expect poor service?

Do you expect great service when you interact with brands as a customer? Most of us do, but Paul Galatis, a director of, recently spoke at the uAfrica ecommerce conference in Sandton and suggested that service expectations are so low in South Africa that when customers are treated well it comes as a shock.

He talked about a knife that his company sent to a customer with a broken handle. When the customer queried the broken product, they immediately sent a new knife. The customer went online singing their praises because he didn’t have to fight for a replacement or refund – that was what the customer expected.

In fact, Galatis highlights this case as a failure of his company. Instead of getting the new knife to the customer within 24 hours, it took 48 hours, yet the customer was still telling everyone who would listen how great their service is.

During his lecture, Galatis pointed out that great customer service is as simple as treating customers as humans and appreciating them, taking responsibility, and not treating the brand community as a marketing channel, but rather a “group of people who choose to hang with you.”

“Great customer service requires people to genuinely care,” Galatis said. “We stuff up – sometimes people complain with good reason…you just hope that there’s enough of the good stuff going around that it outweighs the bad.”

Yuppiechef was named the 2013 best e-commerce website in South Africa in the uAfrica e-commerce awards – a title it has held for the past three years. With such a focus on customer service perhaps it’s obvious why they keep winning.

The Masamoto knife shop at Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan...

Photo by Nate Gray licensed under Creative Commons

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