It’s coming up on the fourth day of outages and Research in Motion (RIM) still has not managed to sort out the problem with its private server which as left millions of Blackberry users with no connectivity. Blackberry has already been steadily losing market share to Apple and Samsung and this kind of PR/CSR fiasco only emphasizes the reasons why customers have fled.
As a Blackberry user, I have certainly been inconvenienced. While I’m not entirely incapacitated, what bothers me the lack of regular updates on what RIM is doing to get its services back on track.
Users all over Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India have suffered patchy email service and no access to browsing and messaging. On Tuesday the problem spread to China, Brazil and Argentina after assurances from RIM that the problem was under control. Currently the outage is spreading towards US and Canada. Blackberry’s tweets have been filled with technical jargon about its ‘core switch‘ and many direct tweets to Blackberry’s help account have been ignored. The last tweet from the BlackBerry Help twitter account was sixteen hours ago (at the time of writing this). Its blog has not been updated in five days.
RIM says that it is working through its huge backlog of data since its server went down but they do not have an estimate of how long it will take. Some customers have been getting updates from their service provider but many others are not. I haven’t received anything from my service provider. However, I do feel that it is RIM’s responsibility to keep their customers updated via text messages or emails. This situation has been handled badly and RIM has followed neither basic customer service nor PR protocols, let alone CSR.
No company is perfect and things like this are likely to happen however, the manner in which these crises are dealt with says a lot about an organization. What RIM should have done was to apologize straight away, explain the problem to their customers in non-technical language, give an estimate of how long it will take to fix and what they are doing. Then they should be filtering their social media streams and addressing their customers either individually or sending out hourly updates. Finally they really should be offering some compensation for the inconvenience caused. None of this was done or done fast enough.
Reuters reports that many companies do not see the need to be locked into RIM’s secure email service and have already begun to allow their employees to use other smartphones for corporate mail which is another reason for Blackberry’s falling shares and dismal performance in the last quarter. The obvious indifference shown by Blackberry and RIM will further make a dent in their performances and their bad crisis management may well cost them many future customers.