A new research report by Analysys Mason has provided insight into why mobile users switch networks and the impact of so-called over-the-top (OTT) services like WhatsApp.
The company’s South Africa Connected Consumer Survey 2016 reveals 4G adoption trends as well as mobile customer behaviour and satisfaction.
A key finding of the survey is that network coverage and customer service continue to be areas of dissatisfaction for customers.
“Cheaper deals elsewhere, poor network coverage and poor customer service are the top three reasons customers give for changing their mobile operator, cited by 40%, 39% and 30% respectively,” the company said.
“Price was the main reason given by Vodacom and MTN subscribers (over 50%) who intended to churn. Some 62% of Cell C’s users and 48% of Telkom’s users intending to churn reported poor coverage as the main reason,” it said.
The survey asked respondents about their use of various mobile services, their attitudes towards their mobile service providers (including net promoter scores) and take-up and usage of OTT and mobile money services.
It found that the marketing of 4G services has not yet resulted in a significant up-sale of data.
“Our survey showed only modest growth in the number of respondents in South Africa that reported taking up 4G services — at 33% of respondents, compared with 29% in 2014 — despite services having been available for more than three years,” said Analysys Mason research director Stephen Sale and senior analyst Karim Yaici.
“In contrast with many other countries, 4G is not yet driving data consumption in South Africa: sub-500MB allowances are still the most popular among contract subscribers (over 50%), and there is little difference in data allowances between 4G users and 2G/3G users,” they said.
Customers’ perceptions of service quality and value for money strongly affect operators’ net promoter scores (NPS). Telkom and Vodacom received higher NPS results than Cell C and MTN.
“Vodacom, which is positioned as a premium service provider, has the widest network coverage and claims to offer the best service quality. Cell C was long perceived as the consumer champion in terms of value for money, having been the last operator to come to market. However, it appears to have lost that position to Telkom,” the researchers said.
Meanwhile, the survey found that WhatsApp is the king of the instant messaging players. It is used by 81% of respondents, followed by Facebook Messenger (45%) and BBM (29%). Mxit, which was once popular with the 18–24 year age group, is in decline: only 5% of respondents used the service.
Social media and messaging apps play a key role in user interactions, but they are not entirely replacing SMS: two-thirds of users stated that they still rely on text, the researchers said.
The survey found that operator-led mobile money services have yet to gain traction in South Africa, with most respondents (57%) not having used any of the most popular mobile money services included in our survey.
“This may be because South Africa has a relatively advanced financial services system.” — (c) 2016 NewsCentral Media