What a crazy, infuriating and informative week it’s been. Crazy for Maxis and their customer service/PR team. Infuriating for Maxis’ customers. Informative for the rest of us!

In a nutshell Maxis mishandled a brewing social media bushfire and caused it to explode into a full blown inferno. You can get the background story on this in my previous two posts on the matter with these links: PART 1 and PART 2.

At about midday today (Friday 8th April 2016) Maxis issued a mini teaser statement on what seemed to finally be their official response to the whole issue. This comes a full 5 days after their initial statement that started the whole blaze.

 

Then at 3pm on the dot, Maxis CEO, Morten and its CMO, Dushyan (first names basis because we’re buddies with our customers you see!?) appeared via a LIVE Video delivered on their Facebook Page. The video stream was eagerly lapped up by people interested on this issue and so far its received 108,000 views – which makes it one of their best videos ever!

 

And a written summary was provided by Josh Lim as seen here (thanks Josh!)

So What Did Maxis’ Customers Think?

Well let’s just say that they were not very impressed. So far out of the 4.8k comments that have been posted on the video it’s clear that 99.9% of them are still angry, if not even more so now. They feel it is too little too late. And they still want cheaper prices.

Lets Start With The Good…

 

  • The statement was delivered by the top two honchos at Maxis
  • They acknowledged that customers were upset
  • They apologized (well kinda..)
  • They provided some offer to appease angry customers (free 3GB for 14 days)
  • And well…the Maxis office looks nice!

 

Now What Went Wrong…

1) Too Much Of A Delay In Issuing An Official Response

Taking an entire week to come up with an official response over such a hot topic is way too slow. To much time was allowed to pass which therefore increases the expectations the public has from your response making it much harder for you to appease them. And what follows, as you will see, is nowhere near enough…

2) The Solution Provided Misses The Main Complaint Completely

The rational complaint that people had with Maxis was over their high prices compared to other telcos. Long time customers felt that these were unwarranted and that Maxis did not appreciate their loyalty. The competitors had rolled out  plans that were almost 40% cheaper (e.g RM80 from Celcom vs RM128 from Maxis).

So that is the main issue that Maxis should have tackled with a response, i.e. provide more affordable plans. Instead, all they end up doing is providing more data quota for some of their existing plans, which the public has already told them are too expensive.

I can certainly understand that it is not simple for a large corporate company like Maxis to just slash prices. But if they want to show their customers that they do care about providing real value, like they say they do, then they can’t continue living in a bubble and ignoring the competition around them. Consumers are just not that naive anymore and sending out these SMS just makes things worse because it shows the brand has NOT listened.

To make matters worse, after waiting for a whole week to announce this customers are then told that the upgrades will only happen at the end of the month – like in 3 weeks time! In internet/social media time, with angry consumers threatening to port today, that is like saying that you will solve their problem in a few years time. Even the free 3Gb bonus to settle everyone down only kicks in next Monday.  At least that could have been done upon releasing the statement right? You had 5 days to prep the billing team!


3) Don’t Do LIVE Video If You’re Not Prepared

While it’s ‘cool and techy’ that Maxis decided to issue a statement via Facebook Live video, it may not be the best choice if the presenters look like they are reading off a script. Sure I understand that it can be difficult to get all these things right in one take which is basically what any Live medium requires. So why do it Live?! Just stick to a good old fashioned video, where the presenters could have done a few takes to create a polished statement. There is NO value doing it Live because it’s not as if they were sticking around to answer live questions from the audience. Infact at the end of the video CEO Morten ends things rather abruptly by saying that they are going back to work.

I am imagining what the CEO was thinking: “Right we’ve wasted more than 2 mins on responding to this silly affair via this video. Lets get back to work, i’ve got more important things to do!

By reading off a script in such an obvious manner the whole intention of doing this casual cool video response is negated and comes across as a scripted Corporate Communications statement – which is anathema on Social Media.

4) The Apology Is Rushed & Grudged

While I think its laudable that Maxis’s CEO actually does use the word ‘sorry’ in the middle of the video, the way he delivers it makes it sound like a very grudging apology. He takes over 1 minute to get to it and then seems to mumble it out and quickly follow up with the magic ‘sorry killer’ word – “but“!

The casual and rather rushed nature of the video also seems to suggest that neither of them take this issue very seriously. As one Facebook comment read “it’s almost like they have a gun at their backs“! Given that many of the emotional comments were about how Maxis was an arrogant brand, a more thoughtful and sincere sounding statement would have been nice.

This ofcourse is a matter of opinion, but since this is my article i guess my opinion counts! I would love to hear what you think about this point so do share your opinion with me below in the comments.

5) The Statement Creates More Questions Than It Answers

The CMO Dushyan, goes on to explain what goodies Maxis will be giving its customers to make them all happy again. Unfortunately as we saw earlier those goodies are just limited to more data quota and don’t address the main issue customer have, i.e. price.  It also creates more confusion and resentment because it doesn’t seem to address all customers. He only mentions an upgrade on two plans: Maxis One Plan 1Gb and the 3Gb. So what about everyone else?! Part of this whole drama was that customers were upset they we being selectively offered different prices. True enough the comments feed is then flooded with comments and questions asking whether this upgrade applies to them or not. And this is the reply that Maxis then provided (very diligently – brownie points there to the team) to each comment:

 

The link takes a customer to a dedicated page created to explain this upgrade. While its great that they created this page, they would have also saved themselves a lot of trouble if

a) the CMO had mentioned this page in the video and
b) they actually posted the link when they posted the video.

However, it still leaves everyone else who is NOT on a Maxis OnePlan (including poor old me), out in the cold and feeling unloved. So again more resentment.

To Port or Not To Port?

What a strange week indeed! I guess the next few weeks will determine whether this whole issue was just a great old ‘storm in a teacup’ or whether it was a serious and far reaching blunder on behalf of Maxis. Will all these thousands of angry customers really port out as they claim they will do? As for me, initially i thought I would stay with Maxis (simply because I am happy with their 4G speed, reliability and coverage) but now, after having seen all this, i’m not so sure.

After all, writing these posts doesn’t earn me a single cent so maybe its time to start saving on expenses where I can eh?

 

This article was first published on LinkedIn on 08 April 2016. Check out the original post and extensive comments here.