TELECOMS

Consumer rights to get mobile support in South Africa

Mobile technology company Clickatell is encouraging people to complain more often about bad service, in the hope of making money as incensed consumers air their gripes by SMS.

Clickatell has teamed up with consumer advocate website Don't go to launch an instant SMS feedback service so companies can find out what their customers think.

People can send a text message to report bad service as it happens, so the organisation can respond almost immediately.

Only a fraction of customers complain to a business directly when they receive bad service, giving companies little chance to deal with the problem. Most people simply withdraw their support and criticise the establishment to their friends.

"Businesses everywhere are challenged by not knowing the reasons why customers don't come back, other than telling the manager on the spot, which most people simply don't do," said Clickatell CEO Pieter de Villiers.

"Customers everywhere carry cellphones, which now can easily be used to provide honest customer feedback via simple text messaging in real time at the point of service," he said.

Companies that subscribe to the service will advertise a phone number in their outlets. Customers can type the word "dont", followed by the name of the company and their comment and send it to that number. Don't go then forwards the message to the company via e-mail.

So far in SA some restaurants, hotels, airlines and grocery store chains have signed up. If complaints are received about companies that have not subscribed to the service, they will be sent an alert for free the first time. Consumers can also report good service using the system. E ach SMS would cost R2.

Business Day

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