Rain is facing a backlash from many of its subscribers who are experiencing slow speeds and connectivity issues.
Slow speeds are nothing new for Rain, but the lockdown has resulted in the problems becoming more severe and more widespread.
MyBroadband’s speed test data shows that the average download speed on Rain’s network plummeted during the lockdown.
This is not surprising. Rain quadrupled its sign-ups during this period, which put its network under strain.
The rapid increase in subscribers aggravated existing network problems and created congestion on many sites which previously performed well.
The increase in subscribers – especially the higher number of users experiencing problems – further caused Rain’s customer support channels to break down.
Many Rain subscribers were left with poor speeds and no effective support channel to assist them.
These subscribers took to social media to voice their frustration in the hope that the mobile operator would fix its network.
Rain’s network problems became such a prominent topic that investigative journalist Devi Sankaree Govender tackled the issue.
Featured on the Devi show, the insert called Breakdown in Communication put the spotlight on Rain’s challenges.
You get what you pay for – Willem Roos
Commenting on the network problems and slower network speeds, Rain CEO Willem Roos said their subscribers get what they pay for.
He said Rain customers should not expect the same network quality as what they would receive from MTN and Vodacom.
He compared Vodacom and MTN to three-star Michelin restaurants, while Rain should be seen as an all-you-can-eat buffet.
This explanation did not sit well with many Rain clients, but Roos’s comments are in line with what the data shows.
While Rain subscribers are complaining about network quality, very few of them are cancelling their subscriptions.
Rain has no long-term contracts, which means it is easy to dump Rain and move to a competing service. This is not happening.
Rain subscribers would rather complain about service levels on social media than vote with their wallets.
The reason for this loyalty is Rain’s attractive price points for uncapped LTE and 5G products.
Rain’s overall value proposition remains unmatched in the South African mobile market, which means subscribers are willing to put up with a lot before moving.
Expectation versus reality
Rain’s biggest challenge is that a large group of its subscribers are getting worse service levels than what they expected.
If the operator wants to cut down on customer complaints it will have to manage customer expectations.
This is, however, easier said than done. Vodacom and MTN have set the bar high in terms of network performance and coverage.
Consumers are used to excellent mobile network speeds and will expect a similar service from Rain, independent of the price they pay.
What is making the situation more challenging is that Rain’s long-term clients are used to excellent network speeds when the operator had fewer clients.
Some of them are now experiencing far slower speeds because of network congestion, which they find unacceptable.
To address this problem, Rain will have to align its marketing message – and therefore customers’ expectations – with what their customers are experiencing.
There is currently a disconnect between expectation and reality, which is behind a lot of the backlash from Rain subscribers.