Foreign Policy Blogs

Ranking Customer Service

Ranking Customer ServiceAt The New York Times Magazine, Nate Silver decided to try to apply his analytical chops to the question of “where to get the world’s best service.” He basically links standard tipping rates with survey responses about the customer service people received in 24 countries. The takeaway:

All of this brings us to the Tipping Curve. If servers expect a generous gratuity, there is a strong economic incentive for them to do superior work. And if they expect nothing at all, good service is taken completely out of the economic context and becomes a matter of custom. But when countries try to split the difference or if they introduce confusing rules into the system, their servers are more likely to leave customers dissatisfied.

Three African countries are included in Silver’s analysis, South Africa (which did quite well at 8th, one spot behind the United States), Morocco (a respectable 11th), and Egypt (a not-so-strong 21st). I was pleasantly surprised by South Africa, which I think has always had a reputation for providing indifferent service that I have always found both inaccurate and unfair.



Derek Catsam

Derek Catsam is a Professor of history and Kathlyn Cosper Dunagan Professor in the Humanities at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. He is also Senior Research Associate at Rhodes University. Derek writes about race and politics in the United States and Africa, sports, and terrorism. He is currently working on books on bus boycotts in the United States and South Africa in the 1940s and 1950s and on the 1981 South African Springbok rugby team's tour to the US. He is the author of three books, dozens of scholarly articles and reviews, and has published widely on current affairs in African, American, and European publications. He has lived, worked, and travelled extensively throughout southern Africa. He writes about politics, sports, travel, pop culture, and just about anything else that comes to mind.

Areas of Focus:
Africa; Zimbabwe; South Africa; Apartheid