Communicating with stakeholders

by Business Case Studies on Monday 24th October, 2011

The recent crashes on Blackberry services have caused significant disruption to its customers. Tens of millions of people around the world were left without services like BBM (Blackberry's messaging service), email and internet for three days.There has been much criticism of how this issue was handled by Blackberry. The biggest cause of dissatisfaction for many customers was a perceived lack of empathy and communication from the firm. The complaints were not only about what was happening but, more importantly, about knowing when services would be back up and running.

In an interview with BBC programme, Newsbeat, Stephen Bates, managing director of RIM UK (the company behind Blackberry), defended his firm's handling of the outage but admitted mistakes were made. He said, 'We didn't spend enough time thinking about the communication. The communication can always be improved and part of the review we're doing is about that, so we can be much quicker in future.' (BBC, 18th October 2011)

Timely and relevant communication is a vital part of business strategy and particularly important in keeping stakeholders such as consumers and shareholders involved. In 2007, Bernard Matthews, the largest turkey producer in the UK, also found its business had been negatively affected by lack of communication with consumers and the media. This followed a series of events, including an outbreak of bird flu, which generated damaging and often inaccurate press stories. Since then, Bernard Matthews has implemented a robust business turnaround programme with integrated channels of communication to all key stakeholders in order to restore the brand reputation and continue to enhance positive consumer opinion.

RIM is also determined to get the Blackberry service back to levels that customers expect. The company has now commenced a full audit of the infrastructure to ensure similar issues do not occur in the future. In addition, RIM has announced plans to compensate people affected by offering them £65 worth of apps for free. Stephen Bates added, 'We have two approaches to communicate with our customers. For our corporate businesses, we provide them in some instances with hourly updates. For our consumer customers, we were doing a lot of work on Facebook and Twitter, but we know not everyone is linked to us that way so coming out to the media is really important to us and we're going to continue to do that.'

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