In two recent MyBroadband surveys the results showed that consumers were far more satisfied with their ADSL Internet Service Provider (ISP) than their broadband provider. The average ISP rating was 3.71 (out of 5), significantly higher than the 3.15 for broadband providers.
MWEB was ranked as the top ISP with an average rating of 4.21 out of 5, and the company’s success is definitely not based on luck.
MWEB ISP CEO Derek Hershaw explained that their high customer satisfaction rate is a result of significant network investments, moving popular content into their network and focusing on customer service and support.
MWEB is well known for the strong presence on Twitter, Facebook and the MyBroadband forums, and Hershaw pointed out that this engagement with customers forms an integral part of their overall strategy.
“We want to know how our customers feel about our products and services, where we’re doing well and where we could do better. We don’t hide away from our customers and we provide them with platforms to publicly air and share their views about MWEB,” said Hershaw.
Afrihost director Greg Payne feels that many local ISPs deliver a great service to their clients at the right price. “Most of the margin goes to the infrastructure provider, yet local ISPs still manage to deliver decent services and great support under these constraints and I think many people appreciate that,” said Payne.
Openweb CEO Keoma Wright argues that ISPs have their feet on the ground and understand their clients’ needs. “We realise that our clients actually pay for our salaries, bonuses and benefits,” said Wright.
What can broadband providers do to raise their game?
South Africa’s broadband providers may be well advised to look towards the country’s ISPs to get tips on how to create happier customers.
Hershaw said that there is an obvious level of frustration that Telkom is not doing nearly enough to improve their ADSL infrastructure. “Exchanges are congested and repair times on faults and installation times on new lines can take weeks,” said Hershaw.
Hershaw added that people generally understand that Telkom are getting most of the revenue in the ADSL value chain, but not doing enough to try and drive down pricing. “The dramatic savings that consumers have seen in recent times have come from the ISPs,” said Hershaw.
Hershaw further suggested that Telkom should boost their customer service levels. “Their customer service is just not good enough – whether you go to them directly or through your ISP the experience is often extremely frustrating.”
Afrihost’s Payne said that the high cost of the last mile that is holding everyone back, and that lower prices will benefit the industry as a whole.
“This is the space where infrastructure providers could really make a difference, and many people in the industry feel that they could provide better value and better service to their resellers and end users in this regard,” said Payne.
Bryant added that it comes down to just listening to their customers, clearing away the clutter and delivering on what the customer needs. “The bigger you get the harder this becomes for a company, but it is certainly possible if the company consciously decides to stay focused on it,” said Bryant.