Terrible customer service is pushing South Africans to jump networks – here’s where they want to go

BrandsEye has published its South African Telecommunications Sentiment Index for 2019, showing that mobile subscribers, at large, are unhappy with their network providers.

The group analysed over 538,000 social media posts made between December 2018 and March 2019 that specifically mentioned the country’s top mobile providers (MTN, Vodacom, Telkom and Cell C), with each post assigned sentiment scores based on their content.

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

The data showed an overall negative sentiment persisting in the market, with Vodacom garnering the most negative feedback, and Cell C the most positive.

One of the biggest complaints and drivers of negative sentiment across all networks related to customer service. These types of complaints accounted for almost half of all posts griping about the operators.

According to BrandsEye’s findings, almost 50% of customer complaints go unanswered on all social media platforms. Here, MTN and Telkom were the worst, with as many as 63% and 50% of complaints directed towards their social media pages, being ignored.

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

On average, it takes 16 hours for a complaint to get a response, ranging between 2 hours for Cell C customers, and 43 hours for Telkom.

Threats to switch

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

From the sample of 200,000 customers, 120,000 expressed negative sentiments. From that, there is a potential churn of 12,000 customers, the group said.

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

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

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

The table below outlines which networks stand to gain and lose from customer churn in South Africa.


Read: The best mobile networks in South Africa – according to South Africans

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Terrible customer service is pushing South Africans to jump networks – here’s where they want to go