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Crisis Case Study: Telstra's response to on-going blackouts

By Georgia Comensoli


Telstra’s network crashed for the second time this month. Customer reactions were sarcastic and brutal as personal mobile connections and entire businesses were left in the dark. Most concerning: calls to emergency services couldn’t connect.

Now, days afterwards, Telstra’s share price has fallen.

What happened

May 1: First network crash - Nationwide, customers experienced connection issues with the NBN and 4G network.

May 21st: Second network crash – Nationwide, customers without connection between 2 and 4 hours.

  • 9:30 - 10:30am - Somewhere in this hour, Telstra experiences widespread outages across all major cities in Australia

  • 10:00am - 2903 reports had been made to Telstra, regarding service issues.

  • 10:30am - By this time, frustrated customers took to social media to express their feelings, including how the outages page was experiencing its own problems.

  • 2:16pm - Telstra responds on Twitter, acknowledging the network was having some issues and that some customers were experiencing problems with their connection.

  • 2:00pm - Telstra announces they had the network back online and everyone should be connected.

  • Statement released mid-afternoon by Mike Wright, Managing Director of Network.

“We’re still finding the source of the problem”

Wright argues the issues they encountered are different from the other network issues earlier this month. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, Guarav Sodhi from the Australian Shareholders Association warned of more issues for the telco to come;

“So the really scary part for Telstra isn’t that they’re being disrupted, it’s their response to being disrupted, which appears quite panicky and mindless”

A Social Media Blow up

By the end of the day, Telstra’s website had reported over 10,000 complaints. That figure doesn’t include the thousands of other customers who would've noticed the issue but didn’t think to report any problems.


Those who were angry enough took to Twitter to ridicule the telco.


Even their outages page was experiencing difficulties...


Their Response

Telstra was quick to respond to their issues, and explained the debacle through the following;

  1. Tweeting sentence statements, acknowledging the issue, and explaining what they were doing to help try and resolve the issue.

  2. After the issue was resolved, and the majority of networks were working again, a spokesperson made a televised statement.

Where they could Improve

Because this isn’t the first time this issue has happened, it’s going to be harder than ever to apologise and be forgiven. This outage didn’t just affect individuals, it affected major companies, and government departments, bringing whole sectors to a standstill.

  1. Telstra need to fully identify what went wrong in each circumstance not just Monday’s.

  2. Improvements must be made to ensure the issue does not occur again.

  3. Communication must be honest and open with all customers, with each case reviewed and dealt with.

Telstra needs to regain consumer confidence in its robust product.

As a Telstra customer myself, I do hope that the telco I’ve partnered with for the better part of 10 years can sustain its place as the best service provider in the country. Their network reach and stability has always been their biggest advantage over of others but if they continue experiencing issues, I think customers will gradually jump ship.

#crisiscommunication #crisisresponse #telstra