M1: Still a friendly telco?

Following nearly 64 hours of service disruption, Mobile operator M1 has claimed to recover its network services from one of its worst network failures to date.

Nearly 16 hours ago, the telco posted on its Facebook page: "3G service has been fully restored in the affected areas. If you are using a 3G handset and still unable to get 3G service, it may help to reboot the device."

The post, however, has since garnered over a thousand angry comments with some complaining that areas such as Woodlands, Ang Mo Kio, Jurong and Bukit Panjang are still facing network issues.

Some subscribers also commented that M1 was seemingly "avoiding the truth" that its not merely a disruption in its 3G services but a total network loss.

M1 has leveraged heavily on its Facebook page to keep the lines of communication open with the public and to convey to users the progress of the situation. When asked, experts told Marketing, the telco has done its best in communicating with consumers.

According to James Brasher, director and partner at Rice Communications even the best laid plans cannot take every contingency into account. "From an external communications perspective, M1 has been responding as best as it can, given the crisis."

"They've tried to keep the lines of communication open to subscribers with notices on their webpage and Facebook pages, and have also done their best to keep media outlets apprised of their progress," Brasher said.

Going forward, taking responsibility for the outage and making reparation to their customers would be an effective way to show that customers are valued and that the company understands the effect of the outage on them, according to Brasher.

"It's likely they're working from the crisis plan on-the-fly, trying to maintain positive public sentiment as best they can in a difficult situation such as this."

Carolyn Camoens, GM of the Singapore office of Waggener Edstrom Worldwide too lauded M1's efforts to communicate.

There's no way they could have responded to every single comment or complaint on their social channels with averages of nearly seven hundred comments per post," she said.

She also added that what the mishap highlighted was the important need for "companies to have a crisis communications strategy in place that takes into account social channels, and for companies to accept that in a crisis, your community, no matter how carefully you have curated and managed it, will become a customer service channel."

The network problem first started at 3 am on Tuesday when one of its vendors was upgrading transmission equipment at its network headquarters. This led to a power problem and set off gas suppressions and water sprinklers systems resulting in the telco's mobile network switches before tripping.

Currently, it is estimated that a fine close to a million dollars could be slapped onto the teleco based on the past fines doled out to teleco's for similar offences. The fines are based on factors such as duration and impact of disruption.

Last year authorities fined all three networks for failing to meet quality standards for 3G services. Based on the Infocomm Development Authority(IDA) of Singapore's 3G Quality of Service Standard(QoS) for nation-wide outdoor service coverage, the IDA fined all three a financial penalty of SG$10,000 on each mobile operator for non-compliance of the standard, said the government agency in a public statement.