South Africa has a new preferred mobile provider – which could be a game-changer for MTN and Vodacom


In a year dominated by Covid-19, lockdowns and work-from-home arrangements where mobile data and connectivity are essential, South Africa’s mobile telecom providers have struggled to meet the challenge of satisfy customers with higher expectations, according to the latest South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SA-csi) for mobile telecommunications services, carried out by Consulta.

The SA-csi 2020 for mobile telecommunications services surveyed just over 2,200 customers who use the collective voice and data solutions offer of Cell C, MTN, Vodacom and FNB Connect.

The survey was carried out in the second half of 2020 to determine how satisfied customers are with the overall service, quality and value received from their mobile providers.

With the exception of Cell C and FNB Connect, both of which are emerging as leaders in all customer satisfaction issues for 2020, the two largest vendors, Vodacom and MTN, come in on a tie, struggling to control the issues. declining trends in customer satisfaction over five year period.

FNB Connect occupies the global leader position with the highest customer satisfaction score, followed by Cell C, also in the leading position, and enjoying an improvement of nearly seven points in the overall customer satisfaction score index in the SA-csi 2020 compared to 2019.

A relevant finding is that after a five-year decline, customer expectations of their mobile service providers increased significantly in 2020. This is attributed to the impact of the pandemic and the increased need for reliable mobile connectivity, because more and more people found themselves working remotely and in confinement.

In terms of exceeding customer expectations, Cell C and FNB Connect scored highest on this measure, while MTN and Vodacom were tied. This should be a cause for concern for Vodacom and MTN, as lower customer expectations have been proven to portend inevitable declines in perceived quality, value and, ultimately, overall customer satisfaction. .

“A steady decline in customer satisfaction and loyalty has made the sector vulnerable to new entrants and substitutes as consumers increasingly seek alternatives, and in particular simplicity, streamlining of service providers and service channels and good value for money.

“This has certainly happened in the latest SA-csi for mobile operators, with a banking brand, FNB Connect, which is number one in customer satisfaction, and not one of the big traditional providers,” said Ineke Prinsloo, KYC manager. at Consulta.

“In fact, FNB Connect’s lead in customer satisfaction among mobile carriers suggests that customers are choosing to turn to trusted vendors with whom they already have a close relationship – in this case, their banking vendor. – allowing them to streamline the number of service providers they use, simplify their billing, payment and instant top-ups using their existing banking app, integrate their banking rewards and get preferential mobile deals and prices.

“When you consider the depth of data and analysis that banks have of their customers, the opportunity to offer value-added products – like data and airtime – that are uniquely tailored to customer needs is important. “

With the arrival of Covid-19, there was a massive shift from voice services to quality mobile data offerings, services and prices, as people had to do the vast majority of their work, education, of their online and distance learning and entertainment.

“And this is a trend that is not about to change. Indeed, customers are less concerned about the quality of voice networks, placing more emphasis on mobile data offerings, services and value for money, an opportunity that FNB Connect has seized by fully integrating mobile offerings with their customers’ banking app and rewards program, ”said Prinsloo.

Key points of the SA-csi survey:

  • On the overall customer satisfaction score: FNB Connect (79.2) and Cell C (77.1) are the leaders, while Vodacom (74.4) and MTN (73.2) are at the industry level.
  • On perceived quality: Measuring what customers expect versus what they experience in terms of delivery – FNB (81.5) is the leader and significantly exceeds customer expectations. All other brands are comparable to those in the industry (78.0)
  • On perceived value: FNB Connect (81.5) and Cell C (79.2) lead, while MTN (72.9) and Vodacom (72.8) tie (74.0).
  • At the industry level, the average incidence of complaints is 28.2% and complaint handling (resolution) is 52.4 – complaint resolution has a significant impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Overall, the incidence of complaints from mobile operators of 28.2% is exceptionally high compared to other industries – ideally, complaints should be less than 10%.
  • Cell C has a complaints incidence of 22.3% but has the highest complaint handling of 60.9, which is likely to have a positive impact on overall customer satisfaction. FNB Connect had the lowest incidence of complaints in the industry (14.2), while its complaint handling is slightly below average. Vodacom (27.4) and MTN (32.5) had the highest complaint rate, and complaint handling was also just below average, suggesting that a large portion of customer complaints are poorly resolved.
  • FNB Connect has the most loyal customers (71.1%), followed by Cell C (70%).
  • The Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures the likelihood that customers would recommend a brand to family and friends (promoters) compared to customers who would actively discourage a relationship with the brand (detractors). The industry average Net Promoter Score is 23.1%. FNB Connect (35.8%) and Cell C (33.1%) are above the industry average (23.1%), while Vodacom (21.7%) and MTN (19.6 %) achieve the lowest scores and below the industry average.

“It will be interesting to watch developments as financial service providers move more and more to provide more value-added services to their customers, supported by sophisticated digital, data and analytics capabilities,” said Prinsloo.

Read: South Africa’s best and worst mobile networks according to customers

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