Sometime in the early morning hours on July 8th, 2022, Rogers Communication had a massive system failure that caused service outages to television, internet, home monitoring, cellular, and home phone services across Canada. There was a time when the failure of a telecom company didn’t have such wide-spread impact beyond discretionary social media indulgences. This outage took down selective commerce, impacted emergency services, delayed medical appointments, derailed meetings, and wreaked havoc on all sorts of services downstream. It also frustrated a lot of home customers. The outage continued in some locations beyond three days. Where Rogers eventually communicated that it had been restored, it performed intermittently at best.
Failure on Multiple Levels
Rogers’ telecommunication services aren’t the only failure. Rogers failed their customers in communication, transparency, and credibility. This incident put a spotlight on telecom mergers especially the pending Rogers-Shaw deal that maybe didn’t matter to as many people before as it does now. A telecom company that fails at communications needs some serious reconciliation.
Tapping into Twitter to get Rogers’ updates is confusing on the best of days. They have multiple accounts like @Rogers, @RogersHelps, @RogersNews, and so on. It’s not clear which will provide an update. While most of their own communication equipment was essentially broken, they did find a way to send out a few tweets. Still, customers felt left out of the loop on what had gone wrong or when service would be restored as the frequency of updates were sparse.
Customers generally have greater tolerance for service disruption when they are engaged on three fundamentals of transparency:
- What has gone wrong.
- When service might be restored.
- Receiving timely updates that either confirm service restoration or provide information on the outage extension.
Rogers failed on all three transparency fundamentals of What, When, and Timely communication as they embraced a seemingly unready recovery strategy in a technology war room that primarily looked inward.
A look at one of the Twitter accounts reveals just how out of touch the communications were over the span of over 48 hours.
July 8, 2022
- The @RogersHelps account first acknowledge a service disruption at 8:54 a.m. on July 8th. According to some Canada-wide customers, it had already been several hours since outages had begun to occur.
- At 11:26 a.m., they confirmed a “Network Outage” without much detail while offering a vague acknowledgement of empathy for consumers and promising some sort of compensation.
- At 12:54 p.m. they advised any Rogers customers who might have a pre-booked appointment that it would be rescheduled. There was no update on the outage.
- The next tweet came at 9:52 p.m., over 10 hours since their network outage acknowledgement. While it offered a hint of recovery and compensation, it still lacked enough detail and time estimates that would satisfy most customers, especially since wide-spread recovery had not yet been achieved.
- At 10:37 p.m. they retweeted a tweet from @RogersNews who had a tweet from Rogers President & CEO Tony Staffieri. That tweet suggested that most customers were starting to see services restored, but online activity from customers who were finding brief alternate feedback channels (likely using other vendor services) suggested otherwise. The disconnect between the Rogers messaging and the customer experience only seemed to fuel more customer anger and mistrust.
July 9, 2022
- On July 9th at 7:01 a.m., almost 24 hours after the initial service disruption, they doubled down on their message from the prior evening that “the vast majority” of customers were seeing service restoration. Again, this fueled customer anger as many didn’t see themselves in the “vast majority” as service disruption continued.
- At 4:19 p.m. they sent a tweet about a possible compensation scam, telling customers they would be compensated directly without any need to fill out forms.
July 10, 2022
On July 10th Rogers was silent most of the day until 4:57 p.m. Almost 24 hours after their last message, which provided zero feedback on restoration efforts, which was almost 36 hours prior. The message doesn’t quite say that things are back to normal yet either.
The lack of communication and transparency contribute to a diminished credibility of Rogers Communication. The fact they couldn’t find a means to communicate with any type of regular frequency, sending customers searching for answers demonstrated a disregard for the value they have for consumers. While the President and CEO sent an early apology promising proactive compensation, he failed to connect with consumers on communication and transparency. The compensation has become a lame-duck token that most seem to be scoffing at because the monetary face value of the service doesn’t replace the business, health, or other value consumers lost in their totality.
Rogers has major work to do in repairing their credibility and it comes at a time when they’re pending deal to take over Shaw Communications must now be questioned.
An immediate lesson learned from the Rogers Communication outage is that any consumer who used Rogers as their end-to-end service provider was down and out. The fear is that telecom companies in Canada are forming monopolies. Those monopolies may not have a reason for extra costs in redundancy or any sense of urgency in recovery, regardless the cost of credibility.
If Rogers had already absorbed Shaw Communications, then all those customers would have potentially been impacted as well.
Less competition can also translate to higher costs for consumers. If you got angry enough to check out the Bell Canada packages during the Rogers outage, you will have realized that there aren’t any cost savings to be had if you switch.
Internet Is More than Social Entertainment
While many customers were upset at the loss of internet because it disrupted their Netflix, Amazon Prime, or other streaming services, the outage had greater consequences than ever before. Businesses lost revenue and people lost access to their finances. Emergency health services were impacted, and safety remains a concern.
Customer outrage was more than a Spotify or Apple Music void. In some cases, it was the ability to communicate with the elderly, their children, or other important moments.
Perhaps it is time to regulate relationships telecom companies have with each other, to ensure service availability in the event of any outages by using each other’s networks. That would be something that should be part of any future merger or other rules imposed on these near Canadian oligarchs.
As of July 11th, customers continue to have connectivity issues.