Vodafone Qatar announced the launch of a program, called You First, to give customers free services to compensate for a major network disruption. Postpaid consumer and business subscribers will receive a total of 18 GB of free data over the next three months—6 GB each month—and 30 percent of their monthly plan fee will also be credited on the next bill. Customers will be notified by SMS as soon as their free data has been added.
New postpaid customers who sign up before 15 August will also receive a credit of 30 percent of their monthly plan fee on their first monthly bill. Prepaid customers will receive 500 Flex units, which will be valid for five days to use for international and local calls, SMS or data. Customers will be notified by SMS within the next two weeks when their Flex has been added. In addition, all balances that expired on 17 July have been returned to customers in full.
The offers come after major problems on the operator’s network over the past week, which caused service disruptions for customers.
On 17 July, Vodafone experienced a hardware failure during a network upgrade, which affected its backup and redundancy systems. By 24 July, the operator said, its 3G network was fully restored, but it was still working to restore its 4G services.
Making appropriate amends for such a disastrous service outage, which affected all of Vodafone Qatar’s subscribers, is key to retaining customer loyalty. Vodafone is right not only to do it, but to do it quickly, making the bonus data available immediately to both postpaid and prepaid customers (though we might quibble that the Flex units for prepaid customers fall a bit too far below the level of the compensation accorded to postpaid customers). More than that, though, the operator is distinguishing itself by branding the compensation as an actual plan with a name, You First (the name, presumably, indicating the operator places the customer’s needs first).
When service interruptions occur, operators must work hard to reassure their subscribers in order to keep them as future customers. In this case, we are dealing with a country that has two mobile operators, Vodafone and Ooredoo, and since Ooredoo is the leader by a significant margin, Vodafone must feel the need particularly keenly. Last week’s outage was a major setback, which is not yet over, considering that 4G is not back online. Six gigabytes a month and a 30 percent refund on plan bills is a step in the right direction, but the operator may have to do even more to fully repair the damage done by the loss of service.