South African Telecommunications Sentiment Index

1 January 2022 - 31 December 2022

Data-driven insights on how to improve telco customer experience


Mobile telecommunications operators (telcos) not only need to deliver returns for their shareholders in a difficult macroeconomic environment but also need to invest in both network infrastructure and diversified digital product offerings in their drive to transform their business models. In this challenging environment, customer experience is critical to drive loyalty and customer retention.

PwC is proud to partner with DataEQ to benchmark consumer sentiment on social media among South Africa’s major telco operators and to bring you data-driven insights on how to improve customer experience.


The index

The South African Telecommunications Sentiment Index is an annual analysis of online consumer sentiment, compiled from social media data. It reflects the Net Sentiment of local consumers toward their telecommunications service providers. The index includes data and analyses for MTN SA, Vodacom SA, Telkom, rain and Cell C. 

The South African Telecommunications Sentiment Index reveals that the telco industry ranked last in terms of consumer sentiment for the third consecutive year compared to the banking, insurance and food retail industries. As telco operators diversify their product offerings, this shortcoming will come into ever sharper focus. 

“South African operators need to make customer-centricity a priority, employing service solutions that are human-led and tech-powered to create seamless experiences across their expanding product portfolios.”

Riaan Singh , PwC South Africa Experience Consulting Leader

South Africans were most negative towards telcos

Averaging out with an overall score of -14%, the country’s network providers underperformed against other sectors in a cross-industry Net Sentiment comparison, suggesting that South Africans had a generally worse experience with telcos than with their retailers, insurers and banks.

The telco industry did, however, show the biggest annual improvement in Net Sentiment, up 17.1 percentage points from the previous year. 


Source: DataEQ

Key findings and insights from the report

  • Benchmark against the best - Customer sentiment in the telecommunications industry lags behind the banking, retail and insurance industries. Telcos who want to delight their customers should benchmark their customer sentiment against leading companies in other industries
  • Network quality remains key - Customers expect the basics to be done consistently to a high standard. Poor connection quality, exacerbated by load-shedding, is behind the bulk of network complaints. There are tangible benefits in positive customer sentiment and customer retention for operators making significant investments in network backup infrastructure.
  • Resolve customer service complaints swiftly - Operational sentiment severely hampered telco performance in the index. Ninety percent of telco consumers are unhappy with the level of customer service received, with call centres emerging as a major pain point. Customer service centres need to be empowered to solve consumer problems in an integrated and seamless way. 
  • Reputational gains can improve public scores - Reputational sentiment (non-customer conversations) showed improvement — especially around targeted campaigns and influencer strategies. 
  • Apply ESG campaigns as a differentiator - Environmental, social and governance (ESG) conversations highlight consumer awareness and pressure placed on perceived corporate responsibilities around sustainability and governance. Telcos that drive effective communications campaigns around ESG will be differentiated.

Register to download:

South African Telecommunications Sentiment Index publication

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Elmo Hildebrand

Elmo Hildebrand

Technology Leader, PwC South Africa

Tel: +27 (0) 11 797 4000