Taking It On The Chin

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businessman punching a punch bag

One of the things we’ve always done as a company is try to maintain a degree of transparency with our clients regarding service issues.

What does that mean?

It means that whenever there is a scheduled maintenance window or something “blows up” that we try our best to communicate this to clients. Some people would love to see us email them or ring them personally any time there’s an issue that impacts them personally, but that doesn’t scale. When we had less than 100 clients we didn’t have the staff to make all the calls and now that we have thousands of clients it simply isn’t possible.

So what do we do?

We push out updates via our technical / status blog and via other media.

Twitter has become a key part of our customer service and technical communications.

It’s odd explaining this to people.

New hires who come from other IT companies find it a little difficult to understand why we are so insistent on being so transparent. There is a culture of obliqueness that many companies in the tech sector like to hide behind. Or at least used to .. these days they can’t get away with it so easily and failure to communicate with their clients means they end up losing business.

But being transparent and “out there” is a double-edged sword. It’s not a policy we’re likely to change, but it’s not the easiest of things to deal with at times.

When stuff breaks (and it does) we get lambasted in public. It’s not simply a question of people asking if there’s an issue with a service, it can often quickly become very nasty.

It’s not easy.

Being called all sorts of “lovely” names is unpleasant, even if they aren’t addressed to you personally, but to the “brand” you represent.

Being insulted and having abuse thrown at you is unpleasant.

But there is an upside, and it’s the main reason why I insist we keep doing it. People appreciate the honesty.

While they might not appreciate it when something stops working, they do appreciate us telling them and our attempts to answer their questions about it.

If  you “put it all out there” then there’s very little for people to criticise – we’ve already told you about our flaws and our issues. Want to pick a fight? Go ahead!


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