BrandsEye and Deloitte Africa’s South African Telco Sentiment Index shows that MTN is the best mobile network while Rain is the worst.
The study analysed consumer social media conversations by tracking over two million social media posts about Cell C, MTN, Rain, Telkom, and Vodacom in 2020.
Each post received a sentiment rating – positive, neutral, or negative – which was then used to calculate a Net Sentiment ranking for each mobile operator.
The study focussed on three major aspects of mobile offerings – pricing, network quality, and customer service.
In 2020, all five network providers saw considerably more negative than positive conversations on social media. Some, however, did significantly worse in Net Sentiment than others.
MTN ranked first thanks to its exceptional network quality. Subscribers were particularly satisfied with the speed and coverage they received.
MTN also saw a considerably better Net Sentiment than the other operators during load-shedding, suggesting their users were the least affected by power outages.
On the other end of the scale Rain performed particularly poorly – 20% below the industry average.
Rain started the year off well following its aggressively priced unlimited data deals and 5G offerings. This increased its Net Sentiment in January and February 2020.
In April, when the lockdown hit, Rain’s support and network quality plummeted which resulted in its largest ever month-on-month Net Sentiment decline.
Customers reported delays in service turnaround, a lack of response from the network provider, and poor network quality.
These issues continued to drive negative sentiment for the remainder of the year.
Rain received the highest proportion of complaints, suggesting their affordability approach came at the expense of customer experience.
Telkom was the second-worst operator because of data complaints related to the operator’s data prices.
Another problem highlighted by users is that they could often not use their data due to network issues.
The chart below shows the Net Sentiment ranking of South Africa’s five mobile operators.
Pricing remained a big theme last year which was partly driven by the Competition Commission’s inquiry into mobile data prices.
Pricing complaints were at their highest in the first quarter of 2020 which was largely the result of the Competition Commission’s inquiry.
The Commission’s findings fuelled consumer discontent with data prices in South Africa.
In the second quarter, MTN and Vodacom implemented significant price cuts on data, coinciding with a steep drop in pricing complaints.
During the second and third quarters pricing complaints remained stable, but started to pick up again in the last quarter of the year.
This was mainly driven by dissatisfaction with MTN prices in South Africa, when compared to other African countries, which led to a call to boycott the telco.
It is interesting to note that despite slashing data prices by up to 40%, Vodacom still saw the most negativity around pricing.
Cell C recorded the highest positive and least negative pricing sentiment, ranking them first in this regard.
The chart below shows the Pricing Net Sentiment ranking for Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Telkom, and Rain.