South Africans hate their network operator

South Africa’s Internet service providers and the telecommunications industry have the lowest net customer sentiment out of all sectors in the country, according to a new PwC report.

PWC has released its customer sentiment index, which tracked Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecommunications as separate sectors.

The report tracked over 1,617,345 mentions of South Africa’s telcos, namely Cell C, MTN, Rain, Telkom, and Vodacom, from 1 January to 31 December 2023.

Both the ISP and the telecoms industry had net negative customer sentiment scores of -41.2% and -18.8%, respectively.

This seems to be a recurring trend for the telecoms industry.

The report notes that “customer sentiment in the telecommunications industry appears to be significantly more negative than other industries such as retail, banking or insurance.”

For reference, the index gave the retail and banking industries scores of 8.8%  and 23.5% respectively.

Only Rain had a positive public sentiment score (9.2%) of all the telcos studied.

It found that Rain had done tremendous work to improve its public sentiment as this score is a 67.5 percentage point jump from 2020.

PwC said this increase was due to the “effective use of interactive competitions that helped generate positive feedback towards products and offerings.”

Therefore, it is important to differentiate between public sentiment and customer satisfaction.

Customer satisfaction data collected using a survey will not be an aggregate of all mentions but rather direct questions or ratings concerning the quality of the service.

However, public sentiment collected from social media can be inflated by encouraging positive interactions for competitions and the like.

It should be noted that Rain is not the only operator that does this — its competitors also regularly run giveaways on their social media channels.

PwC’s report argued that ISPs’ low customer sentiment is due to service issues and network quality complaints.

Negative sentiment towards telcos also came down to service issues relating to poor feedback and issue resolution.

Customer service, accounting for 27.7% of all industry conversation, was particularly poor, although it improved to -87.7% from -90.6% in 2022.

This is not surprising, as people generally take to social media to engage with a company when they are discontent with service they have received.

PwC said the majority of these customer service contacts were directed at call centres, suggesting that South Africans still rely heavily on this channel for support.

Out of all channels of contact, however, mobile apps were the channel that yielded the least negative sentiment.

Network coverage, mobile data reliability, and complicated SIM card processes were the most common pain points identified.

As a result, the report identified a “significant number” of telco customers that showed a sentiment of unfair treatment.

However, Telcos realised positive sentiment towards their reputational campaigns and promotional content from influential authors.

“As such, telecoms should continue leveraging marketing strategies to drive reputational positivity and focus on improving customer experience.”

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South Africans hate their network operator