How SA ranks for customer service

A new study conducted by financial services firm, KPMG ranks South Africa 22nd, out of 25 countries when it comes to retail customer experience in the mobile phone sector.

The country sits only ahead of Nigeria and Brazil, and behind countries like Kenya, Mexico and India.

The study: In Search of a Better Customer Experience was conducted across 25 countries and 106 mobile providers to identify better practices and trends in the prepaid mobile market.

Through over 850 store visits, 750 calls to contact centres, 1,400 SIM purchases and over 500 top-ups completed, KPMG member firms were able to compare experiences to gain a comprehensive global view.

According to KPMG, with prepaid mobile use having the highest penetration in many Asia Pacific countries, it is not surprising that China, Indonesia and Singapore ranked first, second and third, respectively, in the retail customer experience; 100% of the stores surveyed in these countries had a concierge service.

Call centres

As part of the study, mystery shoppers made over 750 calls to contact centres and observed a wide range of experiences.

South Africa fared little better in this category. For interactive voice response (IVR) and wait time, it ranked 23rd again, ahead of only France and Canada, with Poland, Portugal and Mexico ranking highest. Nigeria ranked 12th, while Kenya placed ninth.

In the second category: assistance of agent, South Africa rated ninth, with China, Portugal and Indonesia taking the first three slots.

Overall IVR and contact centre scores as percentage saw SA placed 11th with an average of 74.22%, while China took top spot with 87.4%, and France placing last, with a 41.42% average score.

For most providers it was possible to reach and speak to an agent, but the wait time to reach an agent varied significantly, the report said. Mystery shoppers experienced wait times longer than five minutes 17% of the time.

For the average time it took to reach an agent, post IVR selection, South Africa ranked seventh out of the 25 countries with agents responding on average within 10 to 59 seconds.

The telcos that communicated wait time expectations upfront and offered a call back service were rewarded with positive experience scores despite the long wait.

However, a call back service was only offered 21% of the time, KPMG said, and it was often telcos that had shorter wait times that offered this service, the report found.

Supplementary services

In some countries operators go to considerable lengths to deliver a good retail experience by providing facilities and services that are peripheral to the core product offering.

For example KPMG noted that one operator in Indonesia provides a children’s play area in its retail stores, as well as free WiFi for any visitors. Other facilities offered TVs, newspapers, beverages and PCs for Internet access.

Personalizing the sales process

In the 850 store visits, KPMG said sales consultants only introduced themselves by name 20% of the time. “The sales consultants who introduced themselves and addressed the customer by name made the engagement more personable, resulting in a more positive experience,” the firm said.

“The most striking difference between retail stores is the waiting time. It ranges from less than two minutes to up to half an hour in the worst case. We also noted great variation in consultants’ knowledge of offerings,” KPMG said.

“In an increasingly competitive telco industry it is important to provide the best-in-class customer experience to add and retain customers. If a telco is not performing this task, its competitor will,” the financial services firm said.

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How SA ranks for customer service