Will Blackberry learn the right lessons this week?

Along with many others my Blackberry Internet Service stopped working on Monday this week. I should explain I am a Blackberry fan and I on my 5th model. My kids use 3 of my old Blackberrys too (best not mention the other 1 of the 5, the Storm 2). I hope that Blackberry maker Research in Motion overcomes its current woes and not only survives, but thrives. I am worried, however, and something has to change.

By change I don’t mean the technology. I mean the way they engage and communicate with their audience. During this week’s technical troubles they have appeared to be unresponsive and out of touch. Why did they not use the presence they have developed on the Social Web to keep everyone effected up to date with what was happening? The service outage was bad enough, but to be kept in the dark for so long meant it was so much worse for Blackberry users. On Monday it was very difficult to get any information about what was happening. The RIM News Service for Monday and Tuesday had two updates on each of those days:

Blackberry Service Update 1

As you can see there was not a lot to be gleaned from the updates they did share. Their Twitter accounts and Facebook Page had similar information:

The Blackberry Community Forums and Blackberry Blog had even less!

It took until Wednesday for them to start engaging on Twitter. I had posted this on the Monday:

I got a reply on the Thursday and you can see from the number of retweets that people were desperately searching for information:

On Wednesday I retweeted this from Alistair Campbell.

Simple advice on how this could have been handled so much better. I am sure that RIM had all hands to the pump to resolve the technical issues. I am sure they care passionately about the service they provide so why wait for 4 days to say so. Why did they not have people replying to every tweet, post, comment and blog until the service was back?

This morning the UK Managing Director, Stephen Bates, was interviewed on BBC Breakfast TV. When he was asked about compensation for users for the 3 day outage he looked like a politician trained to avoid answering any difficult questions. It was the same closed approach again. Why not just say they will sort it as a matter of urgency with the Mobile Operators and Service Providers?

It looks like they still have a way to go to really engage and be open with their audience. I really do hope they learn and get it right.

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