Rogers Communications dropped the ball communicating about the outage, experts say

Telecommunications giant Rogers Communications Inc. fumbled its corporate communications during Friday’s massive service outage, according to crisis communications experts.

The company’s handling of the coast-to-coast service disruption was ‘disappointing at best’, and irresponsible at worst, a marketing expert says, given that the system failure affecting customers was foreseeable and has already happened.

At the height of the outage on Friday, Rogers did not appear to communicate to customers the source of the network outage or its impact.

« I don’t think their communications of the day or since have in any way acknowledged that they understood they should have been prepared, » said Kanina Blanchard, assistant professor of management communication and general management at Ivey Business School. from Western University.

David Soberman, professor of marketing at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, agrees. If the company had taken a university course in customer relations, he said, it probably wouldn’t have succeeded with the response it offered amid the service outage.

« I don’t think they made any reassuring communications during the issue, » he said, adding that the crisis lasted 16 hours and impacted an essential service.

Meanwhile, the company tweeted seven times from its technical support Twitter account @RogersHelps, but did not appear to acknowledge the cause of the outage while it was occurring.

At worst, the company’s communication about the outage borders on irresponsible, Blanchard said. The outage was not just about whether or not people could access TV shows, but one that had a direct impact on “livelihoods and lives,” she said, adding that people across the country use Rogers services for everything from money and food to medicine and 9-1-1 calls.

In a statement to the Star via email on Monday, Chloe Luciani-Girouard, director of media relations at Rogers, said the company wanted to make sure the network was stable and that figuring out what caused the outage took time. . As a result, she said, Rogers did not want to share incomplete or inaccurate updates.

“We are fully focused on restoring our networks, identifying the cause of the outage and committing to crediting customer accounts. While this work continues, our top priority has been to ensure that we provide our customers with timely and accurate information as we work to fully restore service,” said Luciani-Girouard.

In an open letter on Saturday, Rogers Chairman and CEO Tony Staffieri apologized to customers for the outage.

During a meeting with the communications industry on Monday, Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne asked telecommunications companies to reach agreements within 60 days on emergency roaming, mutual aid during outages and a communication protocol to better inform Canadians and authorities in the event of an emergency..

Staffieri pointed to a network system failure « following a maintenance update in our core network » as the source of Friday’s outage in the open letter. But that explanation isn’t likely to reassure customers, Soberman said, given that it sounds a lot like the outage that hit the telecoms network 14 months ago.

Customers may wonder if the company learned anything from last year’s service disruption based on its response to it, Soberman added. « Or are they just finding a reason why they don’t have a reliable system? »

In typical crisis communications, companies should offer as much new information as possible about what’s happening, Blanchard said, continuing that good communication involves going through worst-case scenarios to test how to respond if it happens.

Silence, she said, is the worst response because people will start to speculate. « The anxieties that can create (are) also very damaging, » Blanchard said.

With files from The Canadian Press

Jenna Moon is a Toronto-based business journalist specializing in personal finance and affordability. Follow her on Twitter: @_jennamoon


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