This week’s Blackberry failure, RIM outage or call it what you like has highlighted that where customer service and retaining customer loyalty are concerned all businesses from the smallest to the largest are capable of getting it very very wrong.
Everyone at some time or another has a breakdown in their systems, servers fail, products go wrong or are despatched with missing parts, fashion can be faulty, cars break down. The important thing in retaining customer loyalty is not to try and prevent every possible problem as there will inevitably be an occurrence you cannot control/did not prepare for.
The important thing in retaining customer loyalty is how you deal with problems when they occur, and Blackberry, with their current failure, have got it supremely, totally, comprehensively wrong. By handling a problem intelligently it is almost always possible to increase customer loyalty by disclosure and dialogue. In this case Blackberry are doing the opposite.
There’s no doubt that Blackberry are doing their utmost to sort this out. It is a complete disaster and may well affect the future of RIM. Where they have gone wrong is in not updating their millions of customers, old and young, business and casual on the emergence of the problem, apologising profusely for it and giving a regular and updated scenario of when there is likely to be resolution. Even if they do not know when their problem will be solved there should be updates on the hour at the very least. So many of their customers are affected.
The last time I accessed their Facebook Page it had been updated most recently 15 hours ago. If they were aiming to anger their 8m+ followers on Facebook I cannot think of a way of doing it better, moreover it is an indication of their attitude that they cannot be bothered to do anything other than the very least in terms of keeping their seriously put-out customers informed.
As Alastair Campbell Tweeted "Day 3 of BlackBerry black-out. Some free advice. Explain while you fix. Apologise when you have. Recompense after. Handling so far woeful."
I couldn’t put it better myself.