South African consumers’ satisfaction with mobile network service providers has remained unchanged from last year’s score, with consumers giving the mobile networks industry a satisfaction score of 76.7 out of 100. Their satisfaction with mobile telecoms retail stores dropped 4% on last year’s score at 71.6 out of 100. This is according to the South African Consumer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi) score .

The SAcsi surveyed 1 526 randomly selected customers of Cell C, MTN, Telkom Mobile (formerly 8ta) and Vodacom. This year’s results indicate no clear industry leaders. MTN (which was last year’s industry leader), Telkom Mobile and Vodacom have all scored on par with the industry average. Cell C is below industry par by 6,4%. There have been no significant changes in any of the company scores from last year to this year.

“The fact that there is no clear industry leader and that there has been little to no change in both industry and company satisfaction scores indicates that there is no differentiator in the market, and that the mobile network service providers will find it increasingly difficult to find sustainable competitive advantage to compete with,” says Prof Adre Schreuder, founder and chair of SAcsi.

“Without clear differentiation and lower levels of customer loyalty, it will contribute to the ease of switching to another service provider and the network service providers need to consider the possible implications of this.”

The SAcsi surveyed 2 288 randomly selected customers of Altech Autopage Cellular, Cell C, MTN and Vodacom. The sample also included customers of other retail stores (Nashua Mobile and Telkom Direct). Although the industry satisfaction score (71.6) dropped by 3.2 index points (4%) from last year, Altech Autopage improved its score by 7% and moved from below industry par to being on par with the industry.

Vodacom has maintained its industry leader position with a satisfaction score 2.1% above the industry average, although its satisfaction score dropped 6% since last year.

Cell C is on par with the industry and recorded no significant change in their satisfaction score from last year. Satisfaction amongst MTN’s customers is also on par with the industry, but the score has dropped 6% since last year. The other mobile telecoms retail stores scored below the industry average by 4.7%.

“The decrease in overall satisfaction among the mobile telecoms retailers can be attributed to the fact that customer expectations of the quality of service are high and have increased since last year. Telecoms retailers have been unable to meet these expectations, let alone exceed them,” says Schreuder.

He adds that customers expect knowledgeable and friendly staff at outlets and want to receive feedback when raising issues at the stores. The failure of mobile telecoms stores to meet these expectations affects customer satisfaction levels.

“Vodacom exceeds customer expectations and boasts the highest customer retention and customer loyalty scores in the industry, contributing to its high overall satisfaction score,” explains Schreuder.

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 ACSI scores, South Africa is the international benchmark for mobile network service providers, beating Portugal (74.7), The UK (74), Turkey (74), South Korea (73), USA (72), Kuwait (71), Singapore (67) and Brazil (65).

Amongst ACSI member countries, South Africa is the only territory to measure mobile telecoms retail stores.