Johannesburg - Local mobile networks’ internet services score among the poorest of any industry in South Africa when it comes to customer satisfaction, according to a survey.
The SA Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi) benchmarks customer satisfaction levels of products and services sold to household consumers in South Africa.
And SAcsi has this week released its industry report on wireless and fixed line internet providers.
Mobile internet service providers that were scrutinised in the survey include Telkom, Vodacom, Cell C and MTN. The survey attempted to determine customers’ satisfaction levels with 3G and LTE users who access the internet through dongles, routers or via 3G or LTE enabled tablets.
SAcsi says it surveyed over 1 200 customers of South African wireless internet providers. The survey looks at aspects such as customer expectations, perceived quality and perceived value. Meanwhile, SAcsi also says the calculated customer satisfaction index is statistically linked to two outcomes - customer complaints and customer loyalty.
And customers only gave wireless internet providers an overall satisfaction score of 67.2 out of 100. Other industries have scored on average higher SAcsi scores such as health insurance (74.1), life insurers (75.7), private banking (70.3) and clothing retailers (75.5).
According to SAcsi, Telkom took the overall leadership position in the wireless internet space with a score of 70.4 out of 100, Vodacom and Cell C scored 67.4 and 66.8 respectively, and MTN scored below par at 64.5 out of 100.
The survey noted that the respondents “indicated that none of the providers are regarded as performing close to the ideal wireless internet solution”.
“This is indeed a concern given that the expectations amongst customers are lower than in other industries we have measured,” said Professor Adré Schreuder, founder of SAcsi and chief executive officer of Consulta Research, in a statement.
“Wireless internet provision is constrained by poor signal strength in many areas, high costs and slow connection speed. Consumers have become reliant on data and as with other items which are deemed a necessary part of daily life, data costs become a grudge purchase. This is why wireless internet service provision is showing low loyalty scores and why customers will move if they can get data at a better price,” Schreuder added.
SAcsi said all the providers also experienced high levels of complaints as a third of all users had experienced a problem with their provider in the previous six months.
Most complaints centred around the quality of the network and connection speed.
SAcsi said that respondents said that MTN, in particular, has struggled to deliver a consistent offering and were regarded as being expensive.
Breaking down the findings further, SAcsi said Vodacom clients had the highest expectations in terms of its overall quality of service.
Furthermore, the survey found that Cell C and Telkom were regarded as providing better value for money than Vodacom and MTN.
MTN’s service was regarded as being the poorest as respondents slammed the network operator allegedly for the prices it charges for wireless internet. This is according to the perceived value scores in the survey.
Telkom, though, was perceived as offering a good service at a good price, according to the survey.
Lastly, the survey reveals that the wireless internet service providers’ Net Promoter Scores (NPS) - the likelihood that customers would recommend a particular brand - were low compared to other industries.
Telkom, in this regard, had the NPS highest score of the wireless providers.
Fixed line internet
The state of South Africa’s fixed line internet customer satisfaction levels did not score too highly either.
SAcsi surveyed customer satisfaction levels of fixed line internet service providers last year between April and August 2014 using a sample of 1675 customers.
Brands measured were Telkom, MWEB and a category of “other” unnamed brands, according to SAcsi.
And fixed line internet service providers were at the bottom of the SAcsi index, recording an overall customer satisfaction score of 67 out of 100.
The survey results indicate that Telkom had a satisfaction score of 61.5. MWEB score 69.5 while the other brands scored 72.5, says SAcsi.
SAcsi further notes that “this sector recorded the highest rates of complaints ... and correspondingly low loyalty scores. Only municipalities scored lower in terms of loyalty”.
“Internet usage has exploded in South Africa but our infrastructure challenges have meant that there are limitations to the speed and availability of fixed line internet provision. Wireless internet provision is constrained by poor signal strength in many areas, line coverage and speed of connection,” said Schreuder in a statement.
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