Customer Service cartoon

Customer Service cartoon

Customer Service training in South Africa

Many Wonkie readers would agree that good customer service is a rare find in South Africa. On a recent trip to New York, Wonkie discovered that the traditional unfriendly grumpiness of everyone from airport staff to fast food dispensers is far from being just a South African joy. In fact, there appears to be a worldwide conspiracy. There is a trade union of sorts which determines with some rigour how low service levels must be maintained.

This trade union is a mysterious one. Nobody pays any dues but members seem to be fiercely loyal to the code of conduct. After deeper investigation, Wonkie discovered some of the union rules and the inspiring reasons behind them:

1. Use as few words as possible as this conserves energy. For example, instead of How may I help you? say What you want? Using fewer words means less energy is spent speaking and less greenhouse gases are being emitted;

2. Frowning uses dozens of facial muscles and smiling takes much fewer. So do neither of those and instead stare blankly at the customer. This will help reduce wrinkles on your face as you grow older. This rule does not apply when your boss is watching – regardless of whether they are a member of the union or not;

3. Limit interaction with customers. This will minimise a potential cause of anxiety which may lead to the need for expensive anti-depressants;

4. Move slowly. Fast action increases your contribution to global warming so do it for the children;

5. Act like you’re doing the customer a favour by serving them because you are. If you were not there to do this favour, they would be running around lost in the train station or dying of starvation;

6. Complete as many of your personal conversations and gossip sessions during working hours. This saves communication bandwidth after hours which is important in case there is a terrorist attack and you need to use your phone, for example;

7. Gather around the cashier/ till area and snigger in small groups. The additional energy generated by the small gathering keeps the cash machine warm and ensures that it calculates the bill correctly;

8. Take your time delivering the bill. This shows customers that you don’t want them to leave and will result in you getting big tips;

9. Grunt disapprovingly if anybody asks you for information. You should do this regardless of whether it’s your job to answer that type of question or not. This grunting interaction acknowledges the customer’s need at a very deep, subconscious, primal level and will immediately reassure the customer that you know their question is important. The Harvard research confirming this hypothesis is pending; and

10. Don’t display anything but the most basic knowledge about the products you sell. Your sacrifice will encourage customers to do their own research online and give them the resources to make their own decisions. Not only are you helping skill your customers, you are also preventing their mental decay by allowing them to exercise their brains.

If you know of any further customer service rules, please feel free to add them in the comments section below.

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  1. Brilliant….don’t forget chewing loudly while on the phone talking to a client and explaining how totally dis-interested you are in their enquiry/problem.

  2. If you receive a call from a client who needs to talk to someone from a different business unit to yours, please tell them to call Telkom directory services. You don’t have to find it and give it to them, they must not be spoilt, other wise they’ll get used to it and will always call for things that don’t concern you / your busines unit.

  3. Laugh out loud! for a bigger tip..

  4. I have found most private sector service excellent while exellence in the public sector is as rare as rocking horse fertilizer.

  5. When customers comes in to buy, let them wait while you answer the telephone
    to give the callers all the prices they ask for even if they don’t intend buying.

  6. mahao morienyane says

    customer service

  7. Heman teh German says

    Ask for an English translation of the name tag they’re wearing. That always gives a sense of pride and speeds up the delivery of service.

  8. I moved to Somerset West (WP) two years ago and I love shopping in the area, everyone is so helpfull and friendly. Oops, forgot to add, don’t shop at Checkers and Shoprite though, you won’t find the same friendliness there. Eating out at restaurants – excellent service – friendly, helpful and fast!!

  9. everyone must take lunch/tea at the sames time – especially if it is extremely busy due to the fact that most customers can only come in to conduct their business during their lunch/tea breaks.

  10. Remember to stand behind the counter filing your finger nails so that the customers will know that at least you will not be back late from your lunch break when you go for your manicure.

  11. Some how you can understand the American s attitude towards visitors.With their troops at war all over the world,you never know if the visitor is a enemy or if they will find oil in their country soon.Are they in control of all the drug growing countries yet?

  12. Don’t forget to pick your nose while talking to the customer

  13. Talk to your customer with your back on his/her face, this will give him/her the impression that you don’t really need him when you actually do, customers want to be wanted all the time.

  14. … and yawn open-mouthed while stretching your upper limbs in full view of customers – look as bored as possible.

  15. If the shop assistant/owner wants my custom, then he/she will have to give me all the respect I deserve. When I go shopping, I know exactly what I want and which store it is obtainable from, mainly because the store is either recommended by a friend, or, I’ve been there before. It’s MY money, and, where I decide to dispose of it, is my perogative. So all you business people who believe that I owe you’ll my custom, think again.

  16. … and please don’t forget to welcome customers with the unique South African all-in-one rhetorical greeting “helohowayoe” that does not require an answer. While discussing your weekend plans with your colleagues at the till, while skilfully avoiding any eye contact with customers, playfully push each other around while talking and laughing at the tops of your voices.

  17. Fly SAA are definitely taking the lead on this one. Being accustomed to such behaviour from South African service renders, I was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful way that Kulula Airways serve their customers. All this is about in flight service. BA has won my heart and admiration!

  18. #10 is calculated to reduce Alzheimer’s?

  19. And don’t forget to use only one finger working the till blinking your eyes african style at half speed once before typing the next digit as this will ensure the customer can see you are still alive while in the same you end up serving the minimum customers during your shift.

    And if sombody complain…just say “awa” ( africa wins again ) and look as stupid, sorry, I mean as normal as you can!

  20. I must say my experience at the bank today was appalling to say the list . I went into the bank to apply for a personal loan. There is a list where you have to write your name and what you want assistance for. nobody is attending to the list. I duly wrote my name and waited to be called . I then realized that it won’t happen as two people who came before me went directly to the consultants. I THEN FOLLOWED SUIT. I indicated to her what has been happening. she apologized and a few minutes later somebody came and told her that she forgot her phone, apparently when she was at her service. she phoned to inquire about the phone and then remembered that it should be at the inquiries. left for the inquiries to seek for the phone. no apology was tendered. asked me a few questions and then another customer came with a query, she attended to her and wrote down fax numbers to her. After a minute or two she came back and explained the outcome and they interacted and she gave advise. The last straw was the phone-call that came shortly after, she left for 2-3 minutes and conversed with the caller . I could barely keep my cool .I told her about my dissatisfaction with her service.She apologized but was not happy of being reprimanded. As she was now getting serious, a middle aged lady asked to sit next to me. she agreed and I objected that this is a private consultation. She then requested her to move. THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME I CAME FOR CONSULTATION AT THIS BANK.

  21. classic wonkie!!!…cracking up all the way over here!! ;-)…I am sure trinis are direct descendants of South Africans…cuz the services here is wayyyy too similar!…keep up the wit and entertainment…makes for a less manic Monday morning!!

  22. Goverment Employees are not lazy as other folks think, and are not corrupt by choice but it’s just that the employer himself is corrupt and always promise and never keep what he always promise to all amployees and South Africans. There is nothing for Employees to adopt and implement the Batho Pele Principles they just need to be paid accodingly and believe me all South African Public Department will never be the same and corruption will be the thing of the past!!

  23. Thabiso
    You guys don’t get it! Government employees are being paid with money confiscated from tax payers. In the private sector if you don’t like the service go somewhere else. We don’t have that choice with government.

  24. It’s a simple thing to deal with bad service. All you do is stare at the idiot serving you with a sadistic smile and tell them “let me break it down for you” and then proceed to tell them how their pathetic and useless life is highly apparent and if they don’t want to help you’ll just go and do it yourself in THEIR place of work. As long as you let the chop know that you are better than them and tell them this in a pronounced fashion thus making them feel really worse about why they’re pissed in the first place, they’ll hate you oh yes, and of course telling them you’ll do it yourself and actually sticking to your word and proceeding to do just that will get the message across provided you’re force full and abusive in retort to their unwarranted attitude you’ll get what you want! Remember what you put in is what you get out so people in the service industry must get another job if they don’t like it!

  25. @ Madoba.. Yeah my method won’t work with government but you can still give them a fair amount of s&%t in return. lol

  26. ja,expecially @ govt departments. people lie in the interviews that they kno,understand & would adhere to batho pele. go labour deptment in pretoria u will seedisservice @ its best!

  27. rene

    Couple of months ago I got a speeding fine of R100. Tha fine had to be paid in Nelspruit. I went to the police first..they did not feel like writing and send me off to try the traffic department who told me to rather try the Roads department..I then went there..they told me to go to another office of the roads department. As I drove off, I realised that I am close to the magistrate’s office and then tried them as they were closer atb the time. Now here was another intersting thing, the woman who took my money walked around the corner wher I could no longer see her and stayed there for more than 20 minutes to see if i won’t just leave the counter so she can pocket the money! Only when it became clear (the the office chief who avoided eye contact with me at all cost! ) that I was not going to leave but are going to sort it out even if I have to see the chief magistrate, the woman came back to the window and start writing out my receipt!
    What we have here are people who are so lazy that they rather spend ore time getting rid of than to just except payment and give me a receipt! And then these smae idiots are jumping up and down in the streets because the feel they are underpaid – but they are even to lazy and stupid to collect the monies to pay them with!

  28. Phred said, “Ol’ Pliny – Love the sinner, not the sin – I do take Great offense to
    most things dirk posts…” People say offensive things when they are oppressed,
    bitter over something or feel helpless to correct matters. The apostle Paul
    warned us that wicked people would arise in the latter days, and that the
    situation will go from bad to worse. (1Tim 4:1-3; 2Tim 3:13; Acts 20:29,30)

    Yesterday Dirk told us how about his attempts to pay a fine. I’ll bet that he anticipated
    that an official would be corrupt. Now, this will probably raise a few hackles, but the truth
    must be told: When I took my vehicle for an oil change last year, all the silver valve caps were
    missing. Look how hospital linen, medicines, crockery just disappear.

    Who during the pre-1993 years heard of stolen court dockets, cases squashed, and traffic cops
    taking bribes. Theft and corruption on a major scale only escalated since 1993. This can be
    ascribed to the culture of Blacks. Look at the horrid way money is made from parts cut from
    young children while they are still alive. Now, Whites are beginning to play ‘follow my leader’.

    Recently, on the way back to Gonubie on my motorcycle, I passed a police van in the same lane.
    The driver accellerated, passed me and cut me off to the left. A white man came, flashed his
    identity, and said: “You passed me in the lane illegally.” I remained silent. “That’s gonna cost
    you R1000.” I never answered, so he tried again, “You are not supposed to pass me until I
    have pulled over into the emergency lane – R1000 is a lot of money to pay.”

    It sounded very fishy. As a motorcyclist since 1956, and having attended many rallies where
    such things are discussed, I knew I was not in the wrong. The cop kept on, “Do you want to
    come to the charge office, because it’s an offence and it gonna cost you R1000.”
    I played dumb, and said, “Gee brother, I don’t even have that kind of money – I’m broke.”

    He tried once more, but when he saw me drop my shoulders and look down, he said, “OK, just
    don’t try that again, because I will not let you off next time.” I thanked him and he rode on.
    When I got home I fumed like Dirkie, and wrote a letter to the traffic department explaining
    the case. The chief wrote back later and told me that I never committed an offence. He supplied
    the regulations which say that a motorcyclist may ride or pass another vehicle in the same
    lane, if done with care and within the speed limit. Address the crime first, then Dirkie.

  29. Hey,

    it’s an amazing post…………..
    i like it………….thnx 4 posting dis…

  30. Try Builder`s Warehouse( The Glen)- paint dept, for very appalling customer service. 0/10.
    Very surly, rude sales assistants. What a shame as these sales assistants think that they are doing one a favour by assisting one, little realising (or choose not to, ) that the customer is doing them a favour by shopping at their establishment.
    I have just decided to take my money elsewhere…

  31. Union rules
    Don’t forget the most important rule of all –
    “Do rememeber to chew gum with your mouth open while talking to the customer – do not forget to make a few smacking noises inbetween – remember, blowing bubbles shows just how cool you are”.

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