What does Cellcom have to do?

Dec 2nd, 2010 | By | Category: Featured Articles, High Tech, Public relations, Telecom

The marketplace is buzzing with the Cellcom network crash that took place yesterday. I personally am an Orange subscriber and was not aware of what happened (or why I could not contact one or two people on Cellcom’s network) until last night. An article in Globes today reported that the incident is likely to have a negative impact on Cellcom’s brand. This is to be expected. Cellcom, one of the leading mobile providers in Israel (if not the biggest), is certainly going to be affected by this crisis, both financially as well as to its reputation.

So what does Cellcom have to do now?

1. Keep the information coming!

One of the keys to containing a crisis such as this one is to keep the lines of communication open. I was not aware of the crisis until much later, so I did not look out for, or listen to the flow of information. However, the Jerusalem Post reported in the leading story on its front page, that a press conference took place in Tel Aviv, where the CEO announced “this was the worst technical problem since the founding of the company.” He also gave interviews on national television (Channel 2). These were critical steps, which Cellcom implemented. As soon as a crisis occurs, the key messages have to be reiterated and stressed at every opportunity. And especially in today’s social media age, this is not too difficult to accomplish. As admitted, I am not aware of what happened at 10a.m. in the morning when the network went down. Clearly a statement could have and should have been sent out the minute the incident occurred informing users and the public of the incident.

2. Be honest

The public appreciates honesty and openness. People will sense when something is being covered up. Everyone is human and “accidents” do occur. Mistakes happen and history has proven that companies’ reputations or brands can be salvaged by admitting the problem, and doing everything possible to correct it. According to Cellcom’s CEO, this was exactly what he tried to do.

3. Be positive

Cellcom reminded its customers that this was the first time in 15 or so years of operation to have experienced such a bad glitch in the system. This was not a minor detail the company just happened to “mention”. Rather, it was a subtle way of reiterating that Cellcom users, before yesterday, enjoyed high-level service. Positive messages such as these enable the audience to put the issue into perspective. It was an unfortunate incident which the company admitted to, but it was only one day out of more than a decade of excellent service.

Cellcom’s PR work is far from over. It will have to continue the damage control it started last night. This may include continuing the steps above, and/or offering customers affected by the shut-down free minutes, incentives and other packages. However, looking back at the last 12 hours, I would say it got off to a good start. Kudos to its PR agency.

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