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The Good, The Bad, & The Newbie: To Win Over Consumers, PH Telco Players Need To Listen To Social Media

Both internet and telecommunications services have become primary needs for consumers in this digital era, especially in a COVID-19 – stricken Philippines. There is a growing demand for telecommunications companies to deliver continuous and reliable services to their subscribers. As a result, thousands of digital public feedback on the benefits and lapses among the Philippines’ Internet Service Providers’ (ISP) services have flooded online – a rich source of critical data-driven decisions for telco industry players. 

Isentia, the leading media intelligence organization in the Asia Pacific, has uncovered customer sentiments on social media and how these experiences from the services provided by Philippine ISPs, fold into every Filipino’s digital consumer journey. 

Trending Chatter: What Do Customers Say? 

Netizens often take their frustrations to the comments section of Facebook Pages to express opinions and share their user experience. Once posted, these comments, especially those like complaints, can be picked up by other consumers and spread like wildfire. 

Case in point, PLDT went trending on Twitter on March 26 after issuing an advisory that its users may experience slow or intermittent internet services and emerged as the #1 trending topic, generating negative tweets from subscribers. While PLDT responded with a statement justifying the quality of internet services that day, it could not temper further unfavourable discussions surrounding the incident. 

Scripted and Canned? Rising Demand for Personalized Customer Service 

Consumers during this period also posted their concerns on Globe Telecom’s “automated replies” that do not result in immediate action from the company. Criticisms on how “repetitive” and “insulting” the templated reply saying, “We don’t want you to feel that way…” dominated the discussions. 

Negative sentiments were also addressed to SMART Communications, highlighting the need for the company to improve their telco service first before investing in famous endorsers, particularly mentioning Chris Evans during the covered period. As for CONVERGE, its unique Facebook posts that made use of memes received mixed feedback – while some harbored unfavourable comments, the strategy of injecting memes in its content produced significant traction for the brand to the delight of other netizens. 

Francis Calucin, Isentia Philippines Insights Analyst, detailed that, ”internet access has been and will continue to be a basic necessity in every household. But, from the perspective of many, these internet service providers are struggling to satisfy their customers’ needs consistently. From sluggish connection speed to poor customer service, many are voicing their complaints publicly where everyone can see the quality of service they provide.” 

Enter, New Industry Player 

Competition leads to a better market dynamic and, eventually, better economic growth – but does that mean better services as well? With consumers experiencing trouble with their ISPs, some of them were inclined to switch to the new industry player, DITO Telecommunications, whose franchise was approved early this March 2021. However, the new telco company was also “not safe” from criticisms. Netizens were experiencing “bad service” in terms of the roll-out and delivery of their SIM cards necessary for their services to work. There were also claims that certain high-end phones were the only ones compatible with DITO’s mobile data services. 

“Since the pandemic, telco companies have had to step up their game. In the Philippines, they were directed by the President himself to amp up their services. This study looks into conversations on the top telco industry players and dabbles on one of the newer ones who raked in hundreds of thousands of buzz in a single month. Companies can leverage trendspotting studies like this to harvest and pinpoint relevant insights and themes from organic conversations about their services and industry,” Victoria Lazo, Isentia Philippines Insights Manager, explained. 

Data-Driven Next Steps: What Are Customers Looking for? 

With most netizens’ comments and posts being negative, there is a rising demand for telco players to beef up their customer service and respond both personally and on time. Companies need to invest more in improving their messaging by streamlining and personalising conversations and responding to customer issues. This is a source of rabid responses from users that could greatly reflect and affect the image and reputation of a brand. Also, telco companies can migrate discussions to more private avenues – SMS, private messages, and emails – to address their concerns and avoid being bombarded with comments of unfavourable nature. 

Telco companies can give consumers a choice while being stuck in their homes during this pandemic. Riding with the boom in streaming services, telco companies can entice consumers with more streaming package promos, and the brand can also partner with key personalities. These do not have to be international stars as brands can tap local endorsers or collaborators across their campaigns and do not have to stick to just one throughout an entire period. This would be in line with the public now craving more organic promotions and marketing efforts over traditional ones. 

“Having a data-driven approach in finding out what competitors or the industry as a whole has been doing will help brands close in performance gaps and identify key areas they can work on to boost their growth. With trendspotting studies, we aim to encourage brands to look outside of their business and understand the industry better so they can formulate informed strategies and come up with relevant initiatives,” Kate Dudang, Isentia Philippines Insights Manager, concluded.


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