Business Notes: Why Tanzanian customer service leaves a lot to be desired


As I type, I am the Coco Beach bar at Coco Beach in Oyster Bay. I am going to be meeting up with my friend later for an evening of gossip & catch-up. I just asked for a Coke and ice.

They did not have ice. (Hold on, a bar that does that have ice???)

I let that one slide. It’s crackingly hot today so I also asked for some water. I was given Kilimanjaro water, which I really like and it’s cold. So far so good. Oh wait – she does not even bring a clean glass for me to pour my water into – so why should I use the glass I just had which has the remnants of icy Coke in it.

Lack of initiative affects how I view service based industries in Tanzania such as bars and restaurants because and again hate to the bearer of bad news, but that kind of customer service is not really acceptable if I am paying money for it or any other patron for that matter.

Why do we accept such bad behaviour when we go out? I don’t want to say this is a black thing or an African thing but this is not the first time I have been to other black owned enterprises in Tanzania and encountered such terrible customer service. After being here for almost 2 years, I am willing to deduce the following:

*Waitresses & waiters in lots of the bars in Dar es Salaam that are plastic chair joints, ie for local residents, do not think they need customer service because they are catering to Tanzanians. This is a horrible misstep. Customer service is not a white thing or a European thing: it’s a business thing and if you want to retain repeat customers, you better start working hard for that money.

What do you think about bad customer service? Do ethnic minorities need to understand it better or is that a generalisation?

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8 thoughts on “Business Notes: Why Tanzanian customer service leaves a lot to be desired

  1. I do think it is an ethnic thing. Lots of Black people really don’t value each other, and it shows in the treatment. I have seen this across the board, in African-American and Caribbean establishments.

  2. Off the top of my head. You seem to have stumbled on a problem that could use some solving. What if you were able to identify those businesses in your immediate environment which offered excellent service? I’m sure many a discerning shopper would appreciate your pointing them in the right direction. It’s just an idea, but you never can tell where it would lead you.

    • Honestly Ozoro, this is where I disagree. I have noticed this prevalent attitude in many Tanzanian service businesses where they think they are doing you a favour.

      • I wouldn’t be surprised if when you look around the business to discern just how many other enterprises offer the same or similar service products these particular organisations supply. I’d bet there are hardly any others. Now, you’ll see where that “i’m doing you a favor” attitude stems from.

        • Seriously, there are loads of bars + restaurants in Dar es Salaam so it is not an issue of choice or diversity: I genuinely think lots of people here start bars because they like the idea of having a bar, but they don’t think about who they will hire.

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