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BlackBerry down, communication suffers

Published: 18 October 2011

“What did the one BlackBerry say to the other BlackBerry? Nothing.” This is one of the jokes that did the rounds last week during parent company, RIM's fail. I’m not just talking about the fact that millions of subscribers worldwide were limited to SMSes and phonecalls – more than the three-day outage, people are talking about the lack of communication from RIM during the time.

By Leigh Andrews

Local service providers kept their subscribers as informed as possible, with the limited information they had received, and all offered BlackBerry users some form of compensation once services were up and running again, but frankly, it wasn’t their fault. Customer relationship management is crucial in today’s socially connected world, where consumers think nothing of posting a comment like ‘BlackBerry’s keeping us in the dark, they suck’ on the likes of Facebook or Twitter for all the world to see – and not just see it but also share the sentiment and spread the message with a retweet, ‘like’ or comment. It’s not necessarily about how quickly you can solve a problem these days (though obviously that helps); brands need to be transparent and share information, let their customers feel that they are being considered and kept in the loop by being told “we are working on the problem”. This Research In Motion (RIM) did, but people wanted more. Sure, there’s been lots of official communication from BlackBerry once everything was sorted – but is it enough?

At ITWeb’s recent CRM 2.0 summit, Peter Cheales of HelloPeter.com spoke of the customer-centric world. An aspect of his talk that came to mind during the BlackBerry outage last week was that he recommended that businesses share their experiences, not just about the service and product, adding that consumers want to contact someone and for someone to get back to them if they make a query. He explains, “You give me that, I will be your customer for life.”

Cheales also stated, “if service providers don’t have a specific strategy to receive feedback from their consumers, their competitors are likely to come in and steal us away, as products on the market become more identical, with level of service as the only differentiating factor.” There’s been quite a bit written recently about the fact that many irate BlackBerry users are deciding to upgrade to iPhones as soon as possible. Journalist, Lindsey Kin, wrote about her irritation on the Le Resistance blog. When I chatted to Nikita Gomes Achadinha, assistant editor of COUP and fellow BlackBerry user about the issue, she said that while it was highly annoying at the time, she still loves her BlackBerry. “I think people are really fickle and when someone (or a brand in this case) is down, they dwell on that for some reason. Everyone makes mistakes and brands can, too. I have heard many complain about the new iPhone not being the iPhone 5 but rather the iPhone 4S? See? Fickle.”

There you have it. Were you affected by the outage? Did you go into ‘crisis mode’? Share your thoughts on our blog.
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