South African telcos are bad at responding on social media, and it needs to change

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What with the sheer amount of brands on social media, in recent years platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have become the defacto way by which customers communicate with brands.

There is an argument to be made for contacting a company through other means before heading to social media, but we’re just as guilty of approaching a brand on social first before exploring other communication methods.

But that argument may be worthwhile having as a report from BrandsEye and Deloitte Africa has revealed that local telecommunications firms suck at communicating on social media.

The South African Telco Sentiment Index was penned following an analysis of social media conversations between customers and brands. The headline is that on social media, customers were notably more negative to telco firms than bank, insurers and retailers in 2020.

Over two million social posts about Cell C, MTN, rain, Telkom and Vodacom were tracked throughout 2020. Each post was assigned a sentiment rating – positive, neutral or negative – and a Net Sentiment ranking was assigned to each telco.

As you can see in the graph above, MTN is the “best” at social media, but in truth it’s really the first of five losers.

Notably, rain is the worst when it comes to handling communication on social media.

“It was in network conversation that MTN shone. While seeing only a small advantage in quality, it was speed and coverage with which consumers were most satisfied. rain on the other hand, saw above-industry levels of risk conversation about downtime, evidencing network quality as one of its major weaknesses. In terms of load shedding conversation, both MTN and Cell C saw a considerably better Net Sentiment than the other telcos, suggesting their users were the least affected by power outages,” explained BrandsEye in a press release.

Unsurprisingly Telkom ranks second to last and if you’ve ever dealt with the firm on Twitter you will understand that sentiment wholeheartedly. For those who aren’t on Twitter, Telkom’s responses to tweets are hit and miss with the entity often appearing in conversations about it rather than addressing direct mentions.

As we mentioned, there is an argument to be had about approaching a telco of social first. That argument can be summed up as “don’t do it”. BrandsEye and Deloitte Africa found that the industry’s response rate on social media sat at 56.9 percent. Most alarming, however, is that over half of mentions that required a response were never addressed by telcos.

Perhaps it’s best to pick up the phone then if you have a pressing issue.

What is most interesting to us is that in terms of what customers value when it comes to pricing, network quality and customer service, service has the most negative sentiment.

This is due to a steady increase in service complaints that started when lockdown began a year ago.

As regards rain, Deloitte Africa and BrandsEye theorise that in pursuit of affordability, customer service suffered and that is likely a reason for the low numbers given the sentiment analysis.

For customers of these brands, this news sucks but for the telcos it’s an opportunity to do better as BrandsEye chief executive officer, Nic Ray says.

“Customer service is an area prime for disruption, offering an opportunity for telcos to become market leaders through meaningful improvements in service,” says Ray.

“Considering that more than half of all mentions requiring a response from network providers in 2020 did not receive one, the telecoms industry has clearly yet to put the adequate systems in place to deal with the volumes of customers reaching out through these channels,” the CEO adds.

It is painfully clear that local telcos need to get better at addressing concerns, queries and complaints on social media. Whether they will is an unknown for now but we highly recommend trying to get in contact with your telco through any means but perhaps use social media as a last resort.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.