Sunday, May 29, 2011

M1 Service Disruption: Separating a Good Crisis Response from the Great

On 18 May 2011, Singapore's MobileOne (M1) experienced technical difficulties with one of its client management server that resulted in service disruptions to many of its subscribers. M1 promptly released press statements acknowledging the issue, apologising for the inconvenience and assuring subscribers that it was doing its best to rectify the problem. On 24 May 11, M1 issued a press statement apologising for the the 18 May disruption and offered 1 day of free local calls as well as SMSes and MMSes to all its customers on Wednesday (25 May 2011).

From a Public Relations perspective, M1's handled the potential crisis well.

Firstly, the timely release of a statement acknowledging the issue, apologising for it and assuring subscribers that they were working on the problem sent a clear message of “professionalism”. Nothing irks, and reduces customer confidence, more than a company that denies a problem exists and tries to cover it up. Customers want to know that they are dealing with companies that are professional in the way they do business. Hence, in issues where there is clear accountability on the part of the company, the correct crisis management strategy is to accept responsibility and help customers deal with their anger.

Secondly, M1's decision to offer 1 day of free local calls as well as SMSes and MMSes was the correct gesture to help subscribers "deal" with their anger. As I mentioned in an earlier blog posting (John Galliano's Outburst: Racist Rant Crisis), stakeholders not only expect apologies to be authentic and sincere, but also expect it to involve some act of contrition in proportion to the “wrong” committed. Hence, in this incident, M1's gesture was positively received by their subscribers and, in my opinion, maintained their brand image.

Overall, kudos to M1 and their Public Relations Team for managing this crisis well.

I however have 1 point to add. While M1 had done well to manage this potential crisis and maintain its brand image, I however felt that M1 could have capitalised on the issue to build and enhance its brand image. M1's decision to give 1 day of free calls is proportionate to what their subscribers was denied and, to a large extent, the minimum expected. I therefore assert that if M1 had gone 1 step further an offered an additional day of free calls, M1 could have turned this potential crisis to its advantage and enhanced its brand image with its subscribers and those currently with others. This last step of capitalising on the incident to enhance brand image is often overlooked by management and the Public Relation Team and, in my opinion, separates the good from the great.

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