The most satisfied mobile customers: Vodacom vs MTN vs Cell C

Consulta’s latest South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi) for mobile operators shows a major drop in satisfied customers among all operators.

According to the SAcsi, the country’s biggest three operators measured by market share (over 80%) – Vodacom, MTN and Cell C – all showed a decline in overall customer satisfaction scores in the past 12 months.

This in turn has meant a decline in customer loyalty which has been on a three-year downward trajectory across the sector, the group said.

The SAcsi is a measure of customer perception, and not an objective rating of network quality or speeds.

Vodacom retains the leader position in overall customer satisfaction with a 74.8 index score, followed by MTN with 71.8 and Cell C with 71.4. This compares to an industry average index score of 73.3.

There has been an overall decrease in the industry average, dropping to 73.3 – the lowest since inception of the index.

# Mobile handset 2017 score 2018 score Change
1 Vodacom 79.2 74.8 -4.4
Industry Average 77.2 73.3 -3.9
2 MTN 74.2 71.8 -2.4
3 Cell C 76.7 71.4 -5.3

Telkom was not included in the latest review.

According to SAcsi founder and chairperson, professor Adré Schreuder, while mobile networks have focused on technical and infrastructural delivery to capture customer loyalty, the SAcsi results show that ‘softer’ drivers – such as perceived value for money, quality of relationship and service levels and competent complaints handling – are what matter most.

“All networks are highly concerned with acquisition, infrastructure and competing, however none are making a clear value proposition around customer-centricity. It seems that the network providers were not able to maintain customer satisfaction outcomes compared with previous years,” he said.

Consulta found that perceptual drivers such as quality of the relationship with the provider, perceived value for money, complaints handling and resolution and exceeding expectations – which collectively embrace the quality of customer experience and loyalty – were the key reasons why customers choose their cellular provider.

While the quality of the network was an important consideration for Vodacom customers (18.4%), it was considered more of a ‘hygiene factor’ compared with other perceptual factors. Interestingly, MTN customers rated service and quality of relationships as deciding factors in their choice of network.

“While Vodacom’s position remains solidified in the premium segment, we could see this position eroded as customers become increasingly disenchanted with the gap between value and cost.

“As the various operators start reaching a level of parity across their networks and coverage, we’re likely to see a much bigger shift in customer tendency to multi-sim in order to achieve the best value, using multiple providers for their voice and data needs, and declining loyalty,” Schreuder said.

Net promoter scores

The Net Promoter Score measures the likelihood that customers will recommend a brand to their family and friends (promoters) compared to customers who would actively discourage a relationship with the brand (detractors).

The Net Promoter Score average across the industry took a dip, dropping from 37.4% last year, to just 19.9% this year.

NPS scores across all three networks plummeted:

  • Vodacom leads with a NPS of 27.8% although there has been a significant decline from 2017.
  • MTN follows with 11.8% and a similar large decline since 2017.
  • Cell C score is 9.9% that is also much lower than previous year.

Read: This is how much data the average Vodacom customer uses

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The most satisfied mobile customers: Vodacom vs MTN vs Cell C