No room for com­pla­cency

The top five com­pa­nies in 2006 are a far cry from the top five of two years ago

Finweek English Edition - - The orange index -

SIXTY-FIVE COM­PA­NIES across 12 sec­tors were sur­veyed in the latest Ask Afrika Orange In­dex. A to­tal of 110 842 phone calls were made, which net­ted 5 912 com­pleted ques­tion­naires – a re­sponse rate of 26,64%.

Ask Afrika be­lieves this points to the value of the study and the high stan­dard of the qual­i­fy­ing cri­te­ria for re­spon­dents. Ask Afrika had to find con­sumers of the var­i­ous com­pa­nies, and they had to have had re­cent ser­vice ex­pe­ri­ences. This makes the bench­mark truly in­de­pen­dent and unique as Ask Afrika did not work off the com­pa­nies’ data­bases.

The top five com­pa­nies over­all in this year’s find­ings are a far cry from the top five of two years ago.

Pep came in at num­ber one, fol­lowed by Old Mu­tual Bank, Cal­tex, En­gen and To­tal. Two years ago, the top five were dom­i­nated by cell­phone com­pa­nies with Cell C in top po­si­tion over­all, MTN was third and Vo­da­com fourth. Two years ago sec­ond spot went to Out­surance, with Old Mu­tual Bank com­ing in fifth. Old Mu­tual Bank is the only com­pany that held on to its top five rank­ing, hav­ing gone up three po­si­tions to num­ber two this year.

Why the fall-out of cell­phone com­pa­nies?

Maria Petousis, se­nior busi­ness an­a­lyst at Ask Afrika, be­lieves th­ese com­pa­nies have be­come com­pla­cent. “The de­mand for their prod­uct far ex­ceeds sup­ply and they are just rid­ing the wave with­out giv­ing much thought to ser­vice,” she says. “Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and au­to­mo­tive com­pa­nies did well in the con­sumer boom but clearly

gave very lit­tle thought to ser­vice, which is com­ing through strongly in the cur­rent re­sults.”

Pep has sur­prised the in­dus­try with its top rat­ing. Some may ar­gue that Pep ser­vices the lower end of the mar­ket where the ex­pec­ta­tions are not that re­fined. This isn’t the case, says Petousis. Pep’s lower in­come and higher in­come cus­tomers all rated the re­tail out­let’s ser­vice as first class. In fact, Pep scored way above av­er­age on all of South Africa’s ser­vice strengths. TH­ESE ARE: • Friendly staff – Pep 79% vs over­all rat-

ing of 71%; • Pro­fes­sional – Pep 78% vs over­all

68%; • Valu­ing of cus­tomers – Pep 77% vs

over­all 62%; • Em­pow­er­ment to deal with re­quests

ef­fi­ciently – Pep 77% vs 61%; and • Knowl­edge­able staff – Pep 70% vs over­all 61%. See graph. In terms of the four driv­ers of cus­tomer de­light, Pep also scored way above the in­dus­try stan­dard. 1. Re­spon­sive­ness: Pep 70% vs over­all

54%; 2. Em­pa­thy: Pep 77% vs over­all 60%; 3. As­sur­ance: Pep (76%) vs over­all 60%;

and 4. Re­li­a­bil­ity: Pep 75% vs over­all 60%.

Petousis be­lieves Pep has gone be­yond the con­sumer boom and has a re­spect­ful com­pany strat­egy that works from the inside out and that val­ues its cus­tomers.

An­other in­ter­est­ing find­ing of this year’s In­dex is the emer­gence of petro­chem­i­cal com­pa­nies, with three voted in the over­all top five.

Pep has sur­prised the in­dus­try with its

top rat­ing.

“Petro­chem­i­cals is an­other sec­tor where de­mand far out­weighs sup­ply and yet the sec­tor has per­formed very well in terms of ser­vice,” says Petousis. “Some may ar­gue that fill­ing up is a com­mod­ity and a con­ve­nience, re­gard­less of brand, and that all that mat­ters is to have a large spread of branches to reach as many con­sumers as con­ve­niently as pos­si­ble. And yet, the In­dex shows that staff, es­pe­cially the petrol at­ten­dant, knows that cus­tomer re­la­tions mat­ters more than the prod­uct, brand or con­ve­nient lo­ca­tion of sta­tions. They are the ones try­ing to of­fer the best pos­si­ble ser­vice – and they are clearly suc­ceed­ing.”

Food re­tail also did well, de­spite the huge de­mand for and con­ve­nience of the prod­uct. It’s clear that ser­vice re­mains crit­i­cal to the play­ers within this sec­tor, says Petousis.

Gov­ern­ment is one sec­tor that per-

formed very badly in terms of cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, de­spite the huge de­mand for its ser­vices and de­spite the fact that it has more re­sources than ever be­fore. “Gov­ern­ment has to make the shift from power and con­trol to ser­vic­ing its con­stituen­cies,” Petousis be­lieves. Schools were rated the best per­form­ing Gov­ern­ment ser­vice provider.

Old Mu­tual Bank is the only or­gan­i­sa­tion to have re­mained in the top five over­all, im­prov­ing from fifth over­all two years ago to sec­ond spot this year. “The bank­ing sec­tor has so much money and yet it’s fail­ing dis­mally in terms of ser­vice,” says Petousis. “Old Mu­tual Bank stands out in terms of its ser­vice de­liv­ery. It has al­ways been a core strat­egy of the bank to build re­la­tion­ships with its cus­tomers. Where most other banks have moved away from the face-to-face branch con­tact with cus­tomers, Old Mu­tual Bank en­cour­ages its cus­tomers to visit its branch net­work and meet face to face with their bankers. The bank has def­i­nitely mo­bilised its staff to­wards a ser­vice vi­sion and it has had great suc­cess.”

The grow­ing and chang­ing South African econ­omy has not only changed the habits and de­mands of South African con­sumers, it has also trans­lated into an evolv­ing mar­ket for the South African provider, Petousis be­lieves. “Up to now, South African com­pa­nies hid be­hind wide mar­ket seg­ments ac­com­pa­nied by di­verse ser­vice de­liv­ery ex­pec­ta­tions. To­day’s con­sumer is more so­phis­ti­cated in terms of ser­vice ex­pec­ta­tions due to a greater variety of choice and threat­ened mo­nop­o­lies.”

Some sec­tors and com­pa­nies within th­ese sec­tors have re­alised this and have changed their strate­gies and are giv­ing cus­tomers what they want. Many oth­ers, how­ever, still have to make the shift to not only meet but start ex­ceed­ing cus­tomer ex­pec­ta­tions, says Petousis.


Source: Ask Afrika

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