Corporate Blogging through a Disaster (as it’s unfolding)

BombMonster hosting service, Dreamhost, is living the SaaS nightmare right now. It appears the dominoes of disaster all decided to line up in a continuous chain of events for them. While I worked as a maintenance manager at a major newspaper facility, I told people that there were an infinite amount of things that could go wrong between getting the pages and putting the paper out on the street. My job was to manage that risk by attacking every possible point of weakness in the system. Sometimes, those things were outside of our control, though! Dreamhost is finding this out right now… but they are actively communicating the disaster through their corporate blog (clog).

I commend Dreamhost for their timeliness and honesty on their clog. I'm not a customer (I host with Jumpline), but have a newfound respect for them after reading about their ‘ongoing disaster'.

Seth Godin writes:

Lesson one: when things get messed up, being clear, self-critical and apologetic is really the only way to deal with customers if you expect them to give you another chance.

Lesson two: your story is all you've got. If you sell the “up-time” story, better over-invest in whatever it takes to be sure your story is true. If you sell organic yogurt, pay more than you need to to keep the toxins out.

Lesson three: if you think that sometime in the next ten years there's going to be a power surplus (no brownouts in New York, cheap gas in Ohio and plenty of power for your new widgets wherever you are) I think you're making the wrong bet.

I would add a couple points to Lesson one:

  • Be timely.
  • Don't hide.

I provided the following comment to the Dreamhost blog (read it first):

Some feedback to â??Office of the Buildingâ?. Providing a great many details with respect to the equipment failure only provides the customer with a curiosity of wondering how much more can go wrong. By providing a great amount of detail regarding the outage, but no personalization or contact information (simply signing â??Office of the Buildingâ?) is insincere and shows that you do not want to face the issue with your customer. Thatâ?'s disconcerting.

My company had an extended outage last year that cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars in renewals. However, it could have cost us millions of dollars had we not called in employees, put up an alternative contact page (a sign-up page with a phone number where we could reach our customers at) and personally contacted each and EVERY client who was impacted.

Hiding behind a meaningless signature is terrible. I would not put up with this.

What do you think?

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