BlackBerry eyes brand overhaul after service blues

Canada’s RIM to revamp customer care after user blackout hit reputation, says official
BlackBerry eyes brand overhaul after service blues
BlackBerry users lost data for four days during a global outage in October
By Claire Ferris-Lay
Sun 20 Nov 2011 08:51 AM

Research
in Motion plans to overhaul its communications strategy in a bid to rebuild its
brand equity after a service blackout last month left millions of BlackBerry customers
without email or instant messages, a senior official said.

The
smartphone maker’s sluggish response to customer complaints during the crisis
spurred a slew of criticism that sent RIM’s share price tumbling, forcing the
company to refocus on its core product, said Rory O'Neill, vice president for
software and services.

“What’s
really important to us is [our] reputation for secure reliable communications
and quite frankly we failed to deliver on that promise,” he said. “Not only are
we sorry for it but we want to repair our reputation and loyalty with our
customers.

“We have
70 million customers in 174 countries and we need to have a communications
structure that enables us to talk to them and work with our carrier partners to
worldwide to give them real time information.”

BlackBerry
subscribers across most parts of the world lost data services for four days
after a network failure halted messaging and web browsing – the worst since an
outage swept North America two years ago.

Thousands
of users took to Twitter to complain over the blackout, which began in Europe
and the Middle East and spread later to North America, RIM’s largest market.

Analysts
warned the company faced irreparable damage to its brand and would need to look
at changes in its communication strategy.

“The
reputation of RIM was damaged, not helped by the lack of clear, timely
communication from RIM during the disruption,” said Chris Jones, vice president
and principle analyst at Canalys. “RIM must do everything in its power to stop
such a long service disruption from happening again and it needs a much
improved damage limitation communication process.”

In
compensation for the outage, RIM offered subscribers more than $100 worth of
games and productivity tools until the end of the year. Business customers were
offered a free month of technical support.

RIM
would not confirm how many customers had downloaded the free software.

“There
is no compensation for being without a BlackBerry service for three days. It
was never our intention for compensation; it is more of a thank you for being a
BlackBerry customer,” said O'Neill. 

For all the latest tech news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.