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Updated 26 Feb 2020

Key steps to take when it comes to beating your competition

What do Rocomamas, Sorbet and Soccer Laduma have in common? Extremely loyal customers, thanks to exceptional customer service. 

Nadine Todd, 30 November 2016  Share  0 comments  Print

All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions

Whether you’re in the B2B or B2C sector, your customers have a choice whether to buy from you or not. Competition is fiercer than it’s ever been, and customer choices larger. Every business cites customer service as their differentiator, but what does that actually mean?

Here are three businesses that are getting customer service right – and are loved by their loyal customers as a result:


“The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary.” - Sam Walton, founder of Walmart

Related: Customer service: Your survival kit in tough times

Here are three businesses that are getting customer service right – and are loved by their loyal customers as a result:

How Soccer Laduma puts fans first

Soccer -Laduma -logo

Peter du Toit, founder of Soccer Laduma, South Africa’s biggest weekly newspaper (outselling the Sunday Time sin single copy sales on the newsstands), is a big believer that businesses should be in tune with the universe – and that universe is your customers.

“As a successful business, it’s too easy to start buying into your own hype,” says du Toit. “You start believing that you’re somehow doing your customers a favour. Once that happens, your customers will start leaving you, maybe slowly at first, but eventually in droves. Never forget that they’re the ones doing you a favour, and that it’s up to you to earn and then keep their trust and loyalty.”

Du Toit believes a good business/customer relationship is based on trust. “As with any relationship, real trust doesn’t come easily, and it should be cherished.” For Soccer Laduma, this means trying to maintain a relationship with three million readers, which is no small task. “The only way we can do this is through authenticity,” he says.

“Once you’ve earned trust, people will accept mistakes if they know you’re authentic. Sometimes those mistakes can even lead to a deeper relationship. I’ve tweeted an incorrect soccer score before. People noticed, and instead of ignoring the error, or sending a general apology tweet, I spent an hour responding to each of them individually. Almost everyone laughed and said no problem, and all our other followers responded to the authenticity of the engagement as well.

“It’s clear in everything we do that we’re listening to our customers, and that goes a long way towards building and maintaining trust and loyalty.”

The Sorbet difference

Sorbet -logo

Sorbet founder Ian Fuhr doesn’t just believe the customer is always right, he has entrenched this value throughout his entire organisation.

“We have a store-wide policy that if you’re unhappy with your treatment, it’s free,” he says. Sorbet takes this a step further though. A customer can return a product that’s almost finished and they will be able to exchange it.

“It takes training,” says Fuhr. “Not all franchisees immediately like the idea. They believe customers will take advantage of the policy.”

In fact, Sorbet has found the opposite is true. Because customers know there is recourse available to them if they are unhappy with a product or service, they treat Sorbet with the same respect they’ve been given.

“It’s such a simple way to keep customers happy and loyal,” says Fuhr. “The average Sorbet client spends R5 000 with us a year. Compare that to one treatment or product and it makes good financial sense to ensure a customer’s loyalty to your brand.”

Related: 8 Keys to award-winning startup customer service

The secret ingredient to Rocomamas’ success

Rocomamas -logo

When Brian Altriche implemented the ordering tick-box system at Rocomamas it was to streamline and speed up the entire ordering process. An unexpected consequence of the system was realising how often it’s not waiters who make ordering errors, but customers themselves.

“At the beginning we had customers complaining that they’d received the wrong order, and when we went back to the ordering form we saw that they’d received exactly what they’d ordered - but not what they actually wanted.”

Altriche was faced with a choice: Tell the customer tough luck, or give them what they wanted, free of charge. “We will always swop an order without charging for the error,” he says. “Customer loyalty is the single most important element in this business, and there’s no better way to earn it and keep it.”

Because of this attitude, Altriche has a team that monitors social media channels 24/7. When the team is off at night, he personally takes over. “Our food is freshly prepared, which means there are a lot of places where an error can occur,” he says.

“A patty can be undercooked or overcooked, for example. If this happens, the hope is that you catch it while your customer is still in store. That’s a gift, because you can fix it then and there.”


Have you enlisted a ‘secret shopper’ to experience the customer service you offer your clients, from the reception desk right through the organisation? How regularly do you check in with your customers? Remember, your goal is to make customers, not sales.

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About the author

Nadine Todd

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