SA customers “delighted’

Vodacom, First National Bank and Sanlam have been voted tops in an annual consumer satisfaction survey.

The survey with a moniker bigger than a mouthful – the “internationally measurable consumer satisfaction index research in the long-term insurance, telecommunications and banking sectors”, or the SAS index survey – was conducted by South African Satisfaction (SAS) Index in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The survey measured some 27 critical drivers of “customer satisfaction and delight”. Some of these included quality and efficiency of staff, general attitude of staff and whether client information is kept up to date.

The survey is an annual initiative designed to encourage competitiveness across industries. According to the DTI, it is unlike similar benchmark offerings and is comparable to similar surveys in the US and Europe – such as the American (ACSI) and European (EPSI) studies. It is the third year running that the survey has been conducted.

  • View the full resultsof the survey.
  • See comparable statistics (US and UK).

    Results indicate that South African customers are more satisfied than their counterparts in Europe and America. However, the DTI says this may be because South African consumers “have lower expectations”, suggested by a recent consumer survey conducted by the department.

    The DTI says the survey raises important issues about the level of consumer protection and awareness in South Africa. The results clearly show low levels of awareness about consumer rights, and limited support mechanisms to promote consumer activism and protection on the ground.

    Of consumers surveyed 55% did not know any consumer rights at all, 85% asked for more information on consumer rights, 79% did not know of any consumer rights organisations and only 2% belong to a consumer NGO. The DTI says this “poses a challenge to all government, industry and consumer activists to improve services and raise consumer awareness of their rights and expectations”.

    Improvement across the board

    The survey shows that overall improvement has been seen in all the sectors:

    Looking at the industries individually, the ranking of the players in the telecommunications industry remained consistent. However, the industry as a whole showed a 5.5% point improvement.Although Telkom showed a substantial improvement ahead of the launch of the second fixed-line operator, it is not yet delivering the same level of performance as the more competitive cellular industry. On the brighter side, the survey shows that Telkom is doing significantly better than the telecommunication industry in both Europe and the US in satisfying its customers.

    Vodacom and MTN continue to lead the telecommunications field, but Cell C is well on track to challenge the more established players on service levels. Vodacom and MTN are producing the sort of satisfaction levels that one would expect from global players, making their results even more significant.

    Banking industry
    According to the DTI, the banking results confirm the success of its investment in the SAS index to improve service levels. Significant levels of improvement were reported by all of the big four banks. FNB and Standard Bank still scored higher than Nedbank and ABSA, with their improvements setting a new benchmark for competitors in the banking industry. As was the case last year, South African banking customers remain more satisfied than banking customers in America and Europe.Long-term insurance industry
    The DTI says the better banking and telecommunications service levels may be one of the reasons for the new entrant, the long-term insurance industry, trailing behind banking and telecommunications as far as customer satisfaction is concerned. Little separated the top long-term insurance performer (Sanlam) from the least well received (Liberty Life) – a result the DTI attributes to the highly competitive nature of the industry.

    The department says the study will be rolled out across all major industries in South Africa in the near future, providing local and international comparisons to fuel the ongoing drive of local businesses to achieve world-class customer satisfaction. reporter