On Monday, September 10, 2012, one of the largest domain and hosting providers in the country, GoDaddy, experienced an outage that impacted millions of websites around the world. Mostly small businesses were impacted – perhaps you were one of them. The outage impacted websites as well as email service for GoDaddy customers.
Watching the various social media outlets was fairly painful from a public relations perspective. What should be taken away from GoDaddy’s experience?
The Beginning of the Outage:
- As far as we saw, based on when we noticed GoDaddy sites out and to the time the first public statement (on Facebook) came from GoDaddy, there was approximately a 25 minute delay. Again, this is an estimated time frame based on when we noticed several sites out and GoDaddy alerted the public about what was going on.
- Takeaway – Nearly a half hour is a fairly long time to lapse considering how widespread the issue was.
- Before the public comment on Facebook was made, customer service lines became unreachable – a fast busy signal was received. This is even more of a reason to quickly make at least some kind of a statement to alert customers.
- Takeaway – Understand that if customers can’t get through to you, especially when you have 24/7 phone support, the quick release of at least some form of notification is key.
During the Outage:
- The first public notice came via Facebook at 1:36pm and stated “Status Alert: Hey, all. We’re aware of the trouble people are having with our site. We’re working on it.“
- Takeaway – The problem was already reported as being significantly greater than just the GoDaddy site. Be more specific. The more information you can provide, the better. While it is understandable to not release an overabundance of information prematurely, understand your audience and the impact.
- The second public notice came out on Facebook at 3:08pm – an hour and a half later – and simply stated “So many messages, can’t get to you all… Sorry to hear all your frustration. We’re working feverishly to resolve as soon as possible.“
- Takeaway – Ouch. ”Sorry to hear all your frustration”…? This “update” sounded more like an “oh crap, let’s throw something up there to calm down the natives”. Resolve what? What’s going on? Do you have an estimated timeline? Even if the answer is no to all of these questions, provide that update. Yes, provide an update that you do not have an update. And let’s not forget that it has been an hour and a half since the last public update.
- The third public notice on Facebook was at 4:05pm. About an hour after the last and stated “Update: Still working on it, but we’re making progress. Some service has already been restored. Stick with us.“.
- Takeaway – Better than the last update, at least there was some information, but we still wouldn’t consider this an update, so to speak. ”Stick with us”…? At this point, perhaps a “THANK YOU for sticking with us”…? When thousands, if not millions of your customers are being impacted, you may want to thank them in advance for sticking with you.
- The fourth public notice on Facebook was at 5:11pm. Looks like 1 update per hour will be the theme here on out. This update was “We’re continuing our work to get back on track. This is our #1 priority. We’ll keep posting updates here. Thanks for all the support. Seguimos trabajando para restablecer servicio a todos. Esto es nuestra prioridad #1. Seguiremos anunciando mejoras al sistema. Gracias por el apoyo.“
- Takeaway – Adding the Spanish translation – great! Telling customers this is your #1 priority – we’d sure hope so, considering the extent of the outage. Telling people that updates will continue to be posted here was a great way to keep the lines of communication open. At this point, we even noticed GoDaddy was answering some comments here and there, as well. Good job GoDaddy. Social media is about the conversation with your customers. And in times like this, the more you can open the communication, the better the result may be in the end.
- From this point on, GoDaddy provided an update approximately every hour, each update thanking the customers for their patients and understanding, letting the customer base know that they were still working on things.
- Takeaway – Overall, the updates got better over time. However, thousands of people were begging for estimated timelines, a concern that was never addressed.
After the Outage:
- Tuesday morning, a public thank you was sent via Facebook that said “Good morning, everyone. Thanks for your support yesterday. We posted a message about the outage: http://x.co/gdupdate – Not an attack.“
- Takeaway – There are still questions in the air if this really was an internal failure or if the group Anonymous actually was the responsible party. According to the GoDaddy press release, the “service outage was not caused by external influences. It was not a “hack” and it was not a denial of service attack“.
- Email followup and “make good” was sent. We received the “make good” email on Wednesday at 9:52am. Included in our email were statements such as “We owe you a big apology…”, “We let you down and we know it..”, “It’s an honor to serve you. Thank you for the opportunity to re-earn your business and trust.”… The make good was a 1 month credit to the account.
- Takeaway – Good job GoDaddy. Putting at least some money back in the hands of your customers is a good thing. And responding timely and personally is something great companies do. And the fact that you know that you absolutely need to re-earn customer business and trust – you are right. And kudos to you for stating it.
GoDaddy may have been off to a rough start at the beginning, but we feel you came out on top. If we were to infographic this event, GoDaddy (at the beginning of the event) would be represented with that stressed out black and white cat cartoon that we have all seen before. But by the end, we would use an image of a roughed up guy, hair a mess, a black eye – but in a suit, with his head held high, not afraid to ask for help and forgiveness. Now, all of you, go redeem your GoDaddy credits. And Mr. Wagner, go grab yourself a beer… And an Advil.
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