Irene: Losing and Gaining

They say every cloud has a silver lining. Finding an upside to tropical storm Irene, which battered the East coast of the USA, may not seem likely. However, in a competitive environment, your business’ troubles may also be troubles for your competitor too. At such times, the more resilient firms thrive at the expense of those who cannot take the strain. Irene demonstrated this. The storm did interrupt mobile, landline and cable services for several hundred thousand customers. On the other hand, when power cuts occurred, backup power kept 200 mobile masts in operation, thus proving the value of preparing for the worst. Furthermore, enterprising businesses can spot an opportunity to help their community, generate goodwill, and demonstrate their services at the same time. Kudos to Verizon Wireless, who allowed disconnected customers to make free calls using the mobiles in their stores. They also provided help with charging phone batteries… as well as providing all their usual services. By using their imagination, Verizon Wireless both encouraged many more store visits, and showed how to be good neighbours.

Natural hazards like Irene tend to emphasize the importance people place on communication. They should also remind telcos that fairweather profits can be blown away if customers lose service when they need it most. The benefit of resilience is three-fold: the revenues from calls made today, the loyalty of existing customers tomorrow, and churn from less reliable telcos in the long run.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.