More than 57% of O2 customers affected by last week's 24 hour outage believe that there was a lack of communication from the operator and only 20% said it handled the situation well, according to new research.
YouGov conducted a survey after eight million of O2 customers in the UK and Ireland were affected by a network failure last week.
The study was carried out in order to understand how the network outage affected customers (if at all) and how the event may have changed customer opinion about the network.
YouGov also looked at the mobile phone provider on its social media analysis tool, SoMA, as well as BrandIndex – a daily brand tracker – to determine how the media surrounding the incident may have affected brand health.
The survey, which involved over 500 O2 customers, revealed that despite the incident, customers remained positive about the operator. Seventy-one percent believe O2 is a good network despite the outage, while 65% believe all mobile phone networks suffer from outages and O2’s problems were no different.
Despite this loyalty from customers, YouGov research shows that O2’s communications during the incident let the brand down.
Analysing O2’s social media presence during the incident, SoMA – which measures what people are hearing using access to YouGov panellist social media feeds – reveals that 17% of UK Twitter users heard something about O2 on the day of the outage (Wednesday 11 July).
To put this into context, on the day LinkedIn announced that its security systems had been breached, over a third of UK Twitter users (38%) had heard something about LinkedIn, according to YouGov.
On the following day (Thursday 12 July), 15.5% had heard something about the outage – even though the volume of mentions had risen by 25%; an indication that media channels with a significant amount of followers stopped tweeting about the incident, whilst those affected continued to discuss it on Twitter.
The majority (76%) of those who heard about the incident on the day of the outage were between the ages of 18-44, while just 23% were aged 45+. This suggests that younger audiences were quicker to hear the news as it unfolded than those aged 45 or over.
BrandIndex – YouGov’s daily brand tracker – saw O2’s Index score (a composite measure of general impression, customer satisfaction, corporate reputation, quality and value) take a sharp fall, (dropping by 21 points) post-incident. O2’s Index score currently stands at its lowest level in three years.
In comparison, when the BlackBerry outage occurred in October 2011, its Index score declined dramatically – dropping 27 points in a week. BlackBerry’s scores are yet to return to pre-outage levels.
Russell Feldman, associate director in YouGov’s Technology and Telecoms team, said: 'To O2’s credit, the problem was fixed in less than 24 hours. And whilst some O2 customers weren’t too happy with the decline in service, most understood that problems like this do happen from time to time.'
Feldman continued: 'The challenge for all customer-centric organisations is to be transparent and keep communications open – customers appreciate honesty. One only has to look at BlackBerry and how it communicated during its own outage last October to learn valuable lessons.'