South Africans are about as happy with their wireless internet service providers as they are with airlines, which is to say they are not very happy at all.
While average customer satisfaction scores with wireless internet providers increased slightly from last year’s score, new findings from the South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi) show that the industry is among the five lowest industries measured across 21 different sectors.
Over 1400 customers of Telkom, Vodacom, Cell C and MTN gave wireless internet providers (excluding any voice services) an overall satisfaction score of 68.2 out of 100. The data was collected between November 2015 and January 2016.
Telkom and Vodacom both took leadership positions with scores of 69.7 and 69.4 out of 100 respectively. Cell C scored on par with the industry at 66.8 out of 100 and MTN scored below par for the second year running at 66.3 out of 100.
Adrè Schreuder, CEO of Consulta and founder of SAcsi, says that SAcsi scores lower than 70 out of 100 generally indicate poor customer satisfaction. “Even as internet usage grows, customers are frustrated with unreliable service and slow broadband internet speeds. They resent not being able to modify products once they’ve made their purchases. Customers have high expectations and we see that when brands that do not live up to those expectations, customer satisfaction drops,” he explains.
SAcsi measures the customer’s cumulative satisfaction in terms of overall satisfaction, expectations versus actual experiences and comparison to the ideal wireless provider.
One area in which wireless internet providers perform well is value for money, with Telkom customers giving the company the highest score for perceived value, followed closely by Cell C. Vodacom’s perceived value score is on par with the industry average and MTN recorded the lowest value score this year. “This means that Telkom and Cell C customers are happy with the quality of service they receive relative to the price they pay. We see that companies with the highest customer satisfaction are generally those that find the right balance between quality and value,” says Prof. Schreuder.
Telkom and Vodacom lead the loyalty rankings, while MTN customers say they are less likely to purchase more products from MTN. “While the survey results do not specify a reason for this, it may be related to price increases implemented by MTN over the past year,” suggests Prof Schreuder.
Overall Net Promoter Scores decreased from the previous year (from 5.9% to 2.0%). Despite recording a lower NPS score, Telkom has the best NPS score for 2015, which indicates that Telkom’s customers are more likely to recommend Telkom to their friends, family and colleagues. In contrast, Cell C’s customers are the least likely to recommend the company.
Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) is a regulatory approach by the Financial Services Board that seeks to ensure the fair treatment of customers. “While Vodacom fared well in the TCF components of fair treatment, easily understandable information and suitable advice, MTN’s customers rated the company lowest on these same components as well as the component of products for specific needs. In other words, these components combined tell us how customers view the way their service provider approaches them as customers,” says Prof. Schreuder.
Customers reported higher satisfaction with the quality of wireless internet than the previous year (from 67.7 to 72.9) although it remained low compared to other industries. Vodacom customers claimed the highest perceived quality and Cell C customers perceived the quality they received to be the lowest. MTN showed the greatest improvement in the perceived quality of its wireless internet service this year, but it remained low in comparison to the rest of the market.
All providers experienced high levels of complaints, with more than a third of customers surveyed (36%) reporting that they had experienced a problem with their provider in the preceding six months. The complaints incidence in the Wireless Internet industry is also one of the highest among all the industries measured in the SAcsi. Complaints handling was rated at 50.9%, pointing to room for improvement by providers in the area of better addressing customer complaints. Specific complaints centred on the networks – data, speed, coverage and quality.