In this guest post, brand strategist Debbie O’Connor looks at Wednesday’s Optus outage fiasco and how the brand can stem legions of its disgruntled customers heading to rival telcos…
You could literally hear a collective groan this morning as Australian’s across the country who are on the Optus network, woke to find that their morning procrastascroll ritual was halted in it’s track.
It appears that the Optus ‘Yes’ slogan – which was designed to represent the voice of the customer – is starting to turn into a resounding ‘no’! The Optus woes hit their zenith in September 2022 when they suffered one of the largest cyber-attacks resulting in nearly 10million past and present customers’ data being leaked.
By October, it was reported that 10 percent of Optus customers had decided to let their feelings over the data breach be known by walking away from Australia’s second biggest telco.
With today’s outage businesses, schools, hospitals and transport network communication came screeching to a halt. As someone who never carries cash, it came as quite a shock that I couldn’t buy my morning coffee as the EFTPOS machine didn’t work. Apart from no communication, we now we have a cranky, caffeine-deprived community. Not to mention the loss of income for so many small businesses, taxis and banking services. Then of course there are millions of us mere mortals who are without our trusty appendages. Heaven forbid that my teenagers won’t be able to keep up with their SnapChat streak – unless of course they all crowd into Macca’s for the free Wifi.
Seriously though, an outage that started in the wee hours of the morning and is still not fixed almost half a day later, is unheard of in our world of fast paced technology. Australia is a very small place when it comes to mistakes of this magnitude. More concerning is that it took Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin almost six hours to address the Optus crash, only to admit that they had still not identified the source of the problem. If this turns out to be another cyber-attack, how have they let this happen – again? Can Optus come back from what is being named as the biggest national phone outage ever?
While Telstra and Vodafone rub their hands with glee, knowing full well that this could be their early Christmas present, the question must be asked if this is the death knoll for Optus. Mistakes happen, we all get that, however, the way Optus handled both the data breach and now this outage has clearly left a bitter taste in customers mouths. Branding isn’t about the logo, pretty colours or fancy stores. The brand is about reputation, about how you make your customers feel and what they say about you when you aren’t in the room. You don’t have to be a genius to know that the brand damage from this outage will have long term repercussion for Optus No.
We’re taking bets on what percentage of customers Optus will lose with this massive faux pas.
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