Afrihost, or How Customer Service Should Work

For the last three years, we’ve been customers of South Africa’s internet service provider Afrihost. While sometimes the product was failing, their support has been amazing throughout.

Yesterday, we stopped using Afrihost, because the fibre provider in our neighbourhood doesn’t have a contract with them. So this seems an appropriate moment to say thank you. Why?

#1 Response times

Afrihost’s response times have always been amazing. I’ve never had to wait longer than a few hours to get things sorted. The most amazing example was when Kim and I moved to Cape Town.

Afrihost was managing our lines at Telkom, but Telkom (probably the complete opposite to Afrihost in terms of customer service) wanted to have that management back into their custody to migrate our contract to Cape Town, even though we were still paying line rental to them. Basically, we had to move management back to Telkom because they have a closed system.

I found out about this on a Saturday afternoon. I let Afrihost know on my phone, and within 2 hours the line management was released. I was in a shopping mall at the time, so from finding out that this needed to happen to hearing that it was released, we took the time to do grocery shopping. And we could revisit the Telkom branch within the same visit to the mall.

As soon as Telkom had done what they needed to do–something that took over 4 weeks–we moved back to Afrihost.

#2 Explanation

I don’t like it when people go jargon on me. I guess not a lot of people do. Afrihost’s support has always explained to me what I need to do or what they were doing. They haven’t treated me like I was stupid, or that it was not relevant for me to know what was happening.

They’ve just taken it for granted that it was important to educate me as their customer. I highly appreciated this. It made me feel valuable as a customer.

#3 Self-management

One of the other things I also liked a lot is that Afrihost let me manage almost everything myself. I’m quite tech savvy, so I don’t need that much help from Afrihost. With a lot of other providers, they make you dependent on them for the smallest things.

Completely unnecessary! If I want to change my plan, check my line, view my invoices, etc., I don’t want to have to contact someone for that. I’d rather just do that than wait for a reply. A lot of providers offer this limitation under the name of “personalised support”, but in reality, it’s limiting my freedom as a customer.

Afrihost has been great with that. Even when I asked for help, they didn’t just explain what to do, they also taught me how to do it myself a next time.

#4 Temporary residence

More important than anything, Afrihost has played a role in me getting my South African temporary residence visa. That’s right, they’ve helped me stay in South Africa.

When I first applied in 2013, one of the most annoying documents to get was a proof of residence. For the non-South Africans; that’s a document like a bill from a service provider that proves you actually live at the address you list.

We tried so many different service providers and all wanted the same thing: a visa. It was a catch-22 situation; I needed the service provider bill to get the visa, and I needed the visa to get the service provider bill. After trying with several companies in South Africa (Telkom, Vodacom, MWEB), Afrihost’s support was the first to seem to care; they helped me out and my first bill was a document I used for my visa application.

There’s not much more I would ever want from customer service.

Thanks!

Back in 2015, Afrihost’s network was struggling quite a bit. We ended up having to be patient for about 5 months, and I can guarantee that we would have switched providers if their customer service wasn’t as great.

But it was. They listened to my complaints. They made promises they kept.

I’m bummed that they don’t provide fibre where we live. It would have been a no-brainer to stay with them.

Afrihost, our relationship has come to an end, but it wasn’t you, it was me.

Thank you.