Your CEO – Captain Awesome, or Fat Cat?

2014-08-06 08:59

Customer Service: the Good, the Bad – and the Downright Ugly

I witnessed something awesome yesterday – which will have you taking a fresh look at your company CEO. Allow me to set the scene.

MyBroadband surveyed a cat – and set it amongst the pigeons

MyBroadband released the surprise results of the best ADSL ISPs in South Africa yesterday.

The results were taken from a MyBroadband survey in July and August 2014, and showed that Vox Telecom, Web Africa, and Afrihost were rated as the top 3 ADSL ISPs by tech-savvy consumers.

As was to be expected, consumers soon started commenting on the article – not only voicing their surprise at the results, but also complaining, suggesting and praising various ISPs.

Does this remind you of your CEO?

The woes of a Web Africa customer

Since I myself had a 9-day old ticket with Web Africa (we’re hosting our website - Trivia SA - with them), I joined in the fray. To cut a long story short, Web Africa let us know via e-mail on 28 July 2014 that we’ll have to take a higher-tier offering at a higher price, due to the popularity of the Trivia SA website – something we simply couldn’t afford as a NPO.

Web Africa then managed to bumble our request for a discount something terrible. Our request was at first forwarded to the wrong department, then ignored for a day, then we woke them up again, then we got an incorrect promo code, then we were ignored for another 4 days – until we started complaining publicly on the MyBroadband forum. And then, to add even more insult to injury – we were ignored for another 5 hours after having publicly complained on the forum.

This request should have been done and dusted within a day – two days, at the most.

Web Africa however, still felt - after 9 days of bumbling, and only after we started complaining in a public forum – that they’ve bent over backwards to accommodate our request. At the time of writing, our phones are still eerily silent. No apologies from anyone on the management team at Web Africa.

[Mental image: Web Africa managers, and their CEO - hunkering down in dark offices behind closed doors; blinds drawn.]

Needless to say, we’ve since cancelled our website’s hosting with Web Africa.


[Article edited by author on 08 August 2014]

Web Africa has done a lot of damage control after reading our article. We commend them for this, and in the process they convinced us to stay with them and retained us as a client.


Enter Captain Awesome

You might remember - MTN bought 50% +1 of ISP Afrihost’s shares in July 2014, reputedly valued at R500 million. So, what would you be doing right now, if you were the CEO of Afrihost?

[Incorrect mental image: CEO of Afrihost lazing on a beach somewhere exotic, sipping imported beer.]

To my great surprise and delight, and as aptly commented by a fellow forum member: “And suddenly, Gian Visser.

Does your CEO rock?

Yes, I kid you not. For most of the afternoon, Gian Visser - the CEO of Afrihost – was slaving away in the trenches, assisted by Afriman and Afrigirl.

Between the three of them, all complaints, suggestions, compliments – basically anything and everything out there remotely related to the quality of Afrihost’s service – were answered. And promptly.

I thought this was a trick of some sort. Where in your life have you ever come across this? Your CEO joins you at the support desk, slaving away just as hard as you do. So – I did some homework. It turns out this is ops normal for Gian. Par for the course. Daily routine.

[Mental image adjustment: CEO of Afrihost furiously typing away in a support desk cubicle.]

I’m impressed. Hugely.

It’s no fluke then - if you take a closer look at the MyBroadband results, you’ll note that Afrihost came up trumps in the column for “Support”.

Trivia SA is not an Afrihost customer - yet. But we soon will be.

In my opinion, the CEO of Afrihost is Captain Awesome. He took the time to reply to numerous customers who contribute the bare minimum to the company’s bottom line. And he does this on a daily basis.

I think Gian is savvy enough to know that the positive impression he made on the pimply-faced teenager yesterday, might well reap incalculable benefits in the future. Bill Gates was once a pimply-faced teenager. As was Mark Zuckerberg.

Another CEO of note, sadly not with us anymore

In the IT and Technology space, notable CEO’s are few and far between. Those that do make quite an impression, likely came from humble beginnings. As was the case with Ben Mophatlane.

I was fortunate to have crossed paths with Ben very early on in his career. In fact, I remember having bought my very first PC game from him at Software Connection, Sanlam Centre, Pretoria.

Since then, and to the day of his death, Ben was loved by his staff. Ask any of them, and they will tell you that Ben regularly took the time out of his busy day to stop and chat to you, to enquire how things were at home. He took a real interest in his staff, and they loved him for it.

Rest in peace, Ben. Your example lives on in many of us who knew you.

Your CEO – Captain Awesome, or Fat Cat?

How does your CEO measure up? Is he holed up in a fancy corner office, with the door permanently closed, and the blinds drawn – or is he right there with you on a daily basis, fighting the good battle with his team on the front line?

Customer service and satisfaction (according to the MyBroadband survey anyway) has a lot to do with the involvement of the company CEO.

As does the morale of his workforce.


We are understandably loathe to provide you with our website URL, since we’re currently between ISPs.

Please do join us on our Facebook page in the meantime.

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