Telecommunications companies are in a bit of a weird space locally.

For one they are looking to jump on the 5G bandwagon that is setting off globally but as we’ve said before, access to spectrum is a sticking point.

That having been said, telcos are preparing for 5G and improving infrastructure as they do so.

But the latest South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SA-csi) reveals that while infrastructure is important to the likes of Vodacom, MTN and Cell C, these firms might be neglecting its customers.

“As network providers continue investing heavily in infrastructure to provide South Africans with the best network service and coverage, they have all seen reduced customer satisfaction in the battle for loyalty,” writes Consulta, the firm that conducts the SA-csi.

While the graph above shows Vodacom’s customers are more satisfied than other customers, but Consulta cautions that customer satisfaction is on a downward trajectory for all of the telcos and has been for three years.

The question then is why, and founder/chairperson of the SA-csi, Professor Adré Schreuder, says that there is a disconnect between what telcos do and what customers want.

“While mobile networks have focused on technical and infrastructural delivery and handset upgrades in terms of capturing customer loyalty, customers have indicated via the SA-csi that the seemingly softer perceptual drivers such as perceived value for money, quality of relationship and service levels and competent complaints handling are what matter most to them. All networks are highly concerned with acquisition, infrastructure and competing, however none are making a clear value proposition around customer-centricity. It seems that the network providers were not able to maintain customer satisfaction outcomes compared with previous years,” says Schreuder.

The professor also cautions that while Vodacom is leading the pack, it should not rest on its laurels.

“While Vodacom’s position remains solidified in the premium segment, we could see this position eroded as customers become increasingly disenchanted with the gap between value and cost. As the various operators start reaching a level of parity across their networks and coverage, we’re likely to see a much bigger shift in customer tendency to multi-sim in order to achieve the best value, using multiple providers for their voice and data needs, and declining loyalty,” explains Schreuder.

There is however, one slice of good news. Telco customers in SA are more satisfied than they are in the US which has an industry average of 74 percent and Singapore which has an average of 71.1 percent.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]