South Africa’s domestic airlines have maintained customer satisfaction in the latest South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi). At 69.7 out of 100, the score is not statistically different from last year’s score.
The brands included in the survey were Kulula (72.8) Mango (71.3) and SAA (66.8). Kulula’s score increased slightly on last year’s measure and the airline held its leadership position for the second year in a row. Mango’s score was on par with the industry average and SAA score was below par for the second year in a row.
The sample size for the industry survey was 1 275 and the research was conducted between May and July 2015 via telephonic and online interviews.
The SAcsi model combines three drivers of customer satisfaction: customer expectations, perceived quality and perceived value. The calculated customer satisfaction index is statistically linked to two outcomes: customer complaints and customer loyalty.
Customer expectations and perceived quality were on par with the previous study, with customers expecting more from Mango than last year. While the overall average for perceived value increased this year to 71.2 out of 100, SAA’s score (65.5) is significantly lower than the overall industry score. Both Kulula and Mango were given higher scores this year for perceived value.
Professor Adre Schreuder, founder of SAcsi and CEO of Consulta, says that the number of complaints has risen since last year. Although there were more complaints from both Kulula and Mango customers, the complaints level is low with less than 10% of the respondents indicating that they had any complaints (Kulula 6,6% and Mango 7,3%). While it is highly unlikely that any brand will have zero complaints, we advise our customers that the level they should be aiming at is less than 10%. So although the number of complaints with SAA was lower than last year, the level is higher than 10% of respondents at 11,4%,” he says.
Delayed and cancelled flights are the biggest bugbear for customers. Kulula customers also listed baggage damage and loss as issues, while Mango customers mentioned system and app errors as well as boarding gates closing early. SAA customers complained about hidden charges, bad attitudes by SAA staff and dirty toilets.
“Airline industry customers are not a very loyal to any particular carrier,” says Prof Schreuder, adding that although Kulula is the leader in loyalty, both loyalty and retention scores are lower across all brands surveyed. “This drop in loyalty could be due to increased economic pressure on consumers, which drives them towards greater price sensitivity.”
Relative to the international scores, South Africa’s airline industry’s score of 69.7 compares with that of the USA, which reported an overall satisfaction score of 71 out 100 in 2015.
Kulula received positive mentions about its staff’s friendliness and competence in the verbatim comments by customers, whereas SAA customers made the greatest number of negative comments about SAA staff.