No room for complacency
The top five companies in 2006 are a far cry from the top five of two years ago
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
“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.