StarHub is back in hot water after customers faced disruptions once again with regards to the English Premier League (EPL) over the weekend. The new issues come just three weeks after the opening of the EPL which was sullied with disruption issues caused by the telco.
Over the weekend, StarHub customers took to social media to complain when some were unable to catch the EPL broadcast. Many users reported that they could not log into the StarHub TV app and that it showed that it was temporarily unavailable due to system upgrades or that it was unable to retrieve subscription entitlements. Many also complained that since StarHub holds the rights to stream the games, they have no other alternatives.
The disruptions meant that many were unable to watch the broadcast of the Liverpool-Aston Villa match as well as the Formula One Italian Grand Prix which both started at 9pm on Sunday night.
When MARKETING-INTERACTIVE reached out, a spokesperson said that the telco was aware that a few customers may have encountered difficulties logging in to its TV+ service. "We have provided them with support, and they have been able to enjoy the Premier League live games," it said.
A dip in brand sentiments
This comes shortly after StarHub customers found themselves unable to watch the live broadcast of the opening of EPL on August 13.
According to comments seen on StarHub's Facebook page at the time, many were unhappy that they paid a subscription fee only to watch a loading screen and to miss the match entirely. Many also noted that StarHub needed to be "held accountable" and that they "regret" switching from SingTel to StarHub. A number also pointed out that StarHub has regularly faced issues handling the EPL stream year after year and that this was the same situation they faced in previous years.
StarHub was active on its social pages during the matches and worked hard to address issues faced by viewers. In one response, StarHub confirmed that it was aware that some of its customers were experiencing login issues with the StarHub TV+ service and encouraged the affected users to message them privately with more details. In other comments, StarHub gave detailed instructions as to how customers could troubleshoot by rebooting their routers and checking network frequency.
Despite its efforts, brand sentiments for the platform plummeted. According to media intelligence company CARMA at the time, mentions of Starhub spiked over the opening weekend, with corresponding sentiment skewing negative.
Before the opening weekend, the brand’s social media sentiments were 20.3% positive and 11% negative. Over the opening weekend though, positive sentiments dipped and negative sentiments more than doubled. Sentiments of social conversation surrounding StarHub were 25% negative and only 10% positive with 65% neutral sentiments recorded.
With two back-to-back issues and the fact that StarHub is a major telco, what more can be done and how can StarHub rescue its reputation? MARKETING-INTERACTIVE spoke to industry players to find out more.
A reputational crisis?
According to Jeffrey Lim, founder and managing director at 8traordinary, it is important to understand that most customers are reasonable enough to understand that there are times of failures and mistakes from any brand or any service provider no matter how big or small they are. However, breaking down the first line of StarHub's media statement acknowledging that it was aware that "few customers" may have encountered difficulties logging into its TV+ service, he explained that:
"This statement may be misinterpreted by customers or the general public that StarHub feels that there are no issues with their service or system and that a majority of customers are generally satisfied and happy."
From an operational standpoint though, Lim notes that since StarHub won the exclusive rights to EPL for six years, it makes sense that the team should be investing in their hardware, software and systems to ensure viewers get the highest quality in both content as well as service from this.
"Many customers were disappointed that StarHub was not prepared for the load on the system even though this is its second year with the rights," he said.
At the end of the day, failing to fulfil what was promised to customers on multiple occasions, failing on similar issues and more importantly, failing to keep to a brand's vision, mission and culture, is something any brand and organisation should look into quickly as such occurrences can be non-skin-deep, said Lim.
Agreeing with him, Melissa Yik, country manager at M&C Saatchi Performance said that having a good service recovery strategy would be the first step to building back trust for the brand.
"Given that they are the official EPL broadcaster in the market, customers do not have the option to swap to another provider easily. Hence, there will be extra scrutiny regarding the service for the rest of the EPL season," she said.
She added that while the reason for the downtime could be due to larger IT infrastructure issues, the level of service recovery needs to be up to customer standards.
"Having additional customer support during game time might help alleviate the situation when customers feel that their problems are being resolved in a timely manner, especially when it comes to live sports and any delay in handling would not be ideal," she said.
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