Brand in crisis: SmarTone's blackout
Hong Kong - In another example of how brands are struggling to deal with crisis on social media, SmarTone has sparked an outrage for keeping customers in the dark during yesterday's network breakdown that reportedly lasted eight hours.
SmarTone's Facebook page was bombarded with complaints starting from yesterday morning. Many users demanded an official apology and compensation from the company that has been marketing their "reliable" service.
One user wrote on SmarTone's page that it was "totally ridiculous as a mobile network company" as the company failed to deliver the minimum requirement of providing a seamless and reliable network.
Another user wrote: “The presumed service upgrade was in fact a network shutdown. Great.”
Mark Chan, managing partner of CMRS Digital Solution Limited, said a company-owned Facebook page could win confidence from users if the brand handled the crisis promptly.
"While traditional PR solutions took too much time to go through its many layers; social media platform is a comparatively better way to implement PR tactics promptly.
"Timely and sensitive action is important when winning sympathy from upset customers," Chan said.
Chan also added that a company monitored Facebook page could also be a new platform to communicate with press.
The network service failure was a result of an electrical breakdown in the telecom operator's Central and Western district terminal, crippling internet and connectivity and affecting thousands of users across Hong Kong.
Users reported that the mobile internet data service was down and they could not receive incoming phone calls for several hours. Some users also tried to reach operators via the 24-hour hotline but in vain.
This incident came two months after another public outcry as SmarTone decided to cap unlimited mobile data plans in February. The proposal was pulled shortly after the announcement.
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- Smartone Telecommunications