Terrible customer service is pushing the South Africans to the jumping nets – this is where they want to go


BrandsEye has published its South Africa Telecom Sentiment Index for 2019, showing that mobile subscribers are generally dissatisfied with their network providers.

The group analyzed more than 538,000 social media posts made between December 2018 and March 2019 that specifically mentioned the country's top mobile operators (MTN, Vodacom, Telkom and Cell C), assigning feelings scores to each post based on in its content.

Sentiment scores are positive, negative, or neutral, and measure overall satisfaction and opinion about a brand.

The data showed a general negative feeling persisting in the market, with Vodacom getting the most negative feedback, and Cell C, the most positive.

One of the biggest complaints and drivers of negative feeling in all networks related to customer service. These types of complaints accounted for almost half of all messages complaining about operators.

According to BrandsEye's findings, nearly 50% of customer complaints go unanswered across all social media platforms. Here, MTN and Telkom were the worst, with 63% and 50% of complaints directed to their social media pages, being ignored.

Cell C and Vodacom, meanwhile, fared better, with more than 60% of complaints getting a response.

On average, it takes 16 hours for a complaint to receive a response ranging from 2 hours for Cell-C customers to 43 hours for Telkom.

Threats to change

BrandsEye found that approximately one in ten (10%) of complaints against a network include a threat of switching to a competitor – with customer service cited as the main reason.

Of the sample of 200,000 clients, 120,000 expressed negative feelings. From this, there is a potential turnover of 12,000 customers, the group said.

Telkom customers expressed the greatest interest in exchanging networks, followed by Vodacom, Cell C and MTN.

Extrapolating the data to the respective subscriber base of mobile operators, this means that hundreds of thousands of subscribers are "at risk" and millions of dollars in revenue at risk.

Telkom customers are more likely to join MTN, while Telkom was the preferred alternative for all other networks.

The table below describes which networks can be won and lost with customer turnover in South Africa.

Read: The Best Mobile Networks in South Africa – According to South Africans


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