The fiasco of the last few hours is a very good example of how poor communication strategy can alienate customers and lose you money.
- 09:10 – I realise the mail and web hosting for rgbartlett.co.uk is down
- 09:15 – I find the Dataflame website is down as well, now how do I contact them?
- 09:25 – I find that none of the three options available on Dataflame’s automated answering service actually connect me to a person, 3/3 options suggest I use their live online chat (available via their website which is down), or email them (which if they’re offline won’t work).
- 09:28 – I check the Dataflame Twitter feed, no mention of the outage, so I tweet them, and receive no reply
- 09:53 – The Dataflame website comes back online, still no mention of the outage, so I connect to their live chat, and join a queue of 114 other disgruntled users
- 10:15 I give up waiting as the queue has gone down to 67 and hasn’t moved for several minutes
At this point I started looking at the options available for cancelling, and I’ve now emailed the provider to advise I’m cancelling my service with them and requesting a refund under the distance selling regulations.
All it took was one outage, one poor communication strategy, and one hour of fruitless effort trying to communicate with my provider before I quit.
Some people might say “Outages happen, get over it”, which is fair enough, I work in a team who provide a service and sometimes we have to deal with outages, but the key difference is communication.
- If Dataflame had bothered to update their twitter feed (as O2 did throughout their outage yesterday) then I’d know they were on top of it, and I’d be satisfied with that.
- If I’d been able to phone them and talk to someone about the outage, it’s extent, and the ETA for a return of service, I would have been satisfied.
- If they’d offered any communication channels AT ALL which didn’t depend on their own (obviously less than perfect) service, then I would have been satisfied.
As it is, I expect more, even from a provider which charges less than £50 p/year for basic web and email hosting. It wouldn’t cost them much, just a process to say “If it all goes down update the Twitter feed, update the Facebook page, and keep people informed”. That gives customers two things;
- A feeling that someone has thought about the customer, and cared enough to keep them informed
- Realistic expectations of when the service is likely to be back, so they can plan accordingly and make other arrangements
It’s not rocket science people, it’s fundamentals!