Blackberry: How not to do customer service

Blackberry: How not to do customer service

“Don’t worry if it doesn’t work right. If everything did, you’d be out of a job” ~ Mosher’s Law of Software Engineering.

Throw out the textbook - we have a new champion in bad customer service. Blackberry’s recent data outage is a prime example of a badly handled situation. It staggers belief how things have got so messy with a complete failure of technology and customer communications.

Technology has a tendency to fail and err. There hasn’t been one invention that at some point hasn’t stopped working, had bugs or needed improving. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because we have a desire to push technology to the limits with innovation, and as a price, we accept it doesn’t always go right. We want more, and there are some smart people who help us achieve it.

Our IT Services industry is of major economic importance to this country. We’ve built a technology environment which is complex in nature because of the vast number of services and devices available to us. This means that not possible for one individual to know how everything works, nor how to fix everything. However, when you do have a technical team, they should be experts in what they do, and know how to fix it.

Blackberry has failed on two counts, each equally as important as the other; Technology and Communication.

It is staggering that Blackberry has failed for so long and in so many countries. The hardest to believe fact is that there is a single point of failure, with one single site and technical team running the vast majority of their traffic.

Whilst they built a system which they claim is designed to handle such a disaster, it appears that their failover hasn’t worked. If it had been tested and worked, then they didn’t test it well enough. Having not worked for 4 days, it seems staggering that a major smartphone manufacturer and developer does not have a sufficient disaster recovery plan, or failed to consider all the possibilities.

However bad the disaster recovery planning was, the standard of customer communication and care is far worse. With around 90 million worldwide users and the majority of the globe experiencing some level of data traffic loss, it seems incomprehensible that they have seemingly said nothing to their users. The information was limited at best, and the explanation was far too technical.

Every news agency in the world was reporting on the issue, and Twitter was being bombarded with messages from users. It became clear that this was a major problem and needed an explanation and some good customer service.

Blackberry gave their customers nothing. There was no spokesperson outside of the headquarters and simply a message on their website. If the Canadian board did decide to halt any communications and hide away from the problem, then this was a very bad decision. With only a message on their website, it seemed that Blackberry didn’t care.

Blackberry has been left with a very tainted image, but the real shame is that millions of users are dissatisfied and very disappointed at being left out so badly in the cold. 

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