Research in Motion co-CEO Mike Lazaridis has recorded an apology to customers for the global BlackBerry outage that impacted customers this week. In it, he sounds much more subdued than he did back in April, when he stormed out of a media interview because he didn’t like the questions he was asked.
Of course, customers have already taken to all sorts of social networks as well, some re-stating their love for BlackBerry, outage be damned, but more often to declare that they’re buying an iPhone as soon as they can. On Facebook, BlackBerry has racked up thousands of comments; commenters are replying to Lazaridis’ apology video on YouTube; and BlackBerry hashtags had been trending on Twitter.
BlackBerry says things are now back up and running, but the damage from this outage will continue.
Shares of Research in Motion have dropped even further than they had already (the stock is down 60 percent for the year). Investors are calling for the ouster of the company’s management. And it faces new competition from Apple and Google. Not to mention the trust issues the company faces with consumers. If they’re long-term BlackBerry users, they’ve probably experienced a previous outage.
“But even with great phones, people will start factoring in these experiences. And they may not be soon to forget,” one analyst tells CNNMoney.
During a call this morning, the company made no promises to compensate users for the outage, but Reuters says it could get a bill from network providers. Assurances have been made that all messages will be delivered.
According YouGov BrandIndex, BlackBerry’s buzz score took a nose dive between October 7 and 14 in the U.K., and the brand is already starting to see its favorability slip in the U.S. The company would be wise to work out compensation of some form ASAP, whether it’s complimentary service or some other discount or rebate. This would be a solid and truly apologetic first step towards repairing the image of the company and the brand.
As Lazaridis rightly points out, providing good service is the foundation of RIM’s relationship with customers. RIM will now have to work fast and work hard to get back in good with consumers who, like Netflix customers, are only too eager to find better alternatives if they’re not getting what they’re paying for.