SA telecoms industry lags behind banking, insurance and retail with negative sentiment score

Sentiment Index shows the local telecommunications industry lags behind other industries with a -18.8% negative Net Sentiment Score Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng /Independent Newspapers.

Sentiment Index shows the local telecommunications industry lags behind other industries with a -18.8% negative Net Sentiment Score Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng /Independent Newspapers.

Published Jun 7, 2024


South Africa’s telecommunications industry continued to lag behind other industries such as banking, insurance and retail, with a negative Net Sentiment Score of -18.8%, according to research.

The annual South African Telecommunications Sentiment Index, released yesterday by PwC South Africa in collaboration with DataEQ, showed the telecommunications industry continues to face significant challenges in consumer sentiment.

The index was compiled from social media data and reflects the Net Sentiment Score of local consumers toward their telecommunications service providers.

Operational sentiment was said to be negative across the board, signalling an industry-wide issue with crucial business activities such as customer service and network availability.

Elmo Hildebrand, PwC Africa telecommunications leader, said while complaints over network quality were often impacted by external factors such as load shedding, a significant share of negative customer sentiment was being driven by telecoms’ inability to meet basic customer service needs.

“Customer service accounted for 27.7% of all industry conversation, with an overwhelming negative sentiment of -87.7% (2022: -90.6%),” Hildebrand said.

“Customers are left dissatisfied by a lack of efficient feedback and issue resolution, particularly when contacting call centres.”

The index creators said they assessed 1 617 345 public mentions about Cell C, MTN, rain, Telkom and Vodacom from January to December 2023 to benchmark consumer sentiment on social media among South Africa’s major telecoms operators, and to provide data-driven insights on how to improve customer experience.

Telecommunications providers were said to have cemented themselves as the backbone of modern communication, and therefore wield substantial influence over society today.

However, despite the indispensable nature of their services, a disparity existed between customer expectations and the actual delivery of quality service and support.

This year, rain emerged as the sole provider with a net positive score, unanimously taking the top spot in both operational and reputational Net Sentiment Score.

Engaging campaigns played an important role in this feat, helping boost rain’s Net Sentiment Score by more than 16 percentage points.

DataEQ telecoms lead, Liska Kloppers, said a communication channel analysis pointed to a key channel dependency on the traditional service model.

“Call centres remained the most complained about channel, suggesting that despite the growing availability of digital channels, telecoms companies continue to rely heavily on telephonic support,” Kloppers said.

“However, this support is proving inadequate, with customers turning to social media channels as an alternate to resolve their issues.”

There was a positive outlook for telecoms financial services offered by telecoms as they exhibited varying performances in the report, with mobile money driving positive interest compared to insurance, which drove risk and complaints.

Nana Madikane, PwC Africa telecommunications, media and technology industry leader, said telecoms companies needed to place a keen focus on closing the customer sentiment gap.

Madikane said that as the telecoms industry leaders navigated this age of continuous reconfiguration and reinvention, they needed to address a multitude of strategic areas vying for their focus.

“And in this vein, it is key to remember who is at the heart of their future business successes—the customer,” she said.