South African consumers’ satisfaction with mobile network service providers has declined since last year, with consumers giving the mobile networks industry a satisfaction score of 75.4 out of 100, according to South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi).

The SAcsi surveyed 2 195 randomly selected customers of Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and a category called “Other”, which includes Telkom Mobile. With the exception of Cell C which showed a small improvement, each of the brands received lower scores than last year.

Vodacom emerged as industry leader with a score of 76.7 out of 100; MTN was on par with the industry average at a score of 75.6. Both Cell C and “other” scored below par at 72.9 and 69.4 respectively.

“This is one of the only industries we have measured in which all service providers surveyed are meeting the expectations of their customers on issues of overall quality, meeting individual needs and things not going wrong with the provider,” says Professor Adre Schreuder, founder of SAcsi and CEO of Consulta.

There were no changes in the overall level of expectations for the large network providers compared to last year’s results. Vodacom subscribers still have the highest expectations, with Cell C scoring below the industry average. “In contrast, Cell C showed a significant improvement in the perceived quality of its offering, although the brand still lags behind in the overall industry score. MTN and Vodacom showed no change from the previous results,” he explains.

Cell C has managed to decrease the number of problems experienced by subscribers by 8% since the previous SAcsi measure. Cell C’s complaint handling efficiency has also improved and is now the best in the industry. Prof Schreuder says that around 20% of complaints in the industry centre on billing issues.

Perceived value, which describes the perception of price given the quality and the perceived quality given the price, is four points lower at 74.8 out of 100. “Cell C is regarded as the industry leader when it comes to perceived value,
with Vodacom regarded as the most expensive, although customers indicate that Vodacom offers the best quality product. This clearly signals a preference for quality at a fair price, rather than a having to accept poor quality at a low price,” explains Prof Schreuder.

Net Promoter Score, which indicates the likelihood of customers to recommend a particular brand, has decreased significantly across the industry, from 38% in 2013 to 31% at the end of 2014.
SAcsi holds a licence with the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) and forms part of a growing number of ACSI-licensed partner countries worldwide, which allows South Africa to compare its industries’ customer satisfaction with this global community.

Relative to the international scores, South Africa compares well. The overall score is in line with the best scoring mobile industries in other countries such as Portugal (75), Turkey and UK (74), South Korea (73) and the US (72).