The last day of the year brought two Customer Support Horror Stories, from two Jeremies.
- Jeremy Zawodny: What The Fuck is with Dell Technical Support?! (via Christopher Carfi)
- Jeremy Wright: Sigh @ Netgear Support
Quite a reading, side by side…. I don’t know about Netgear, but Dell had enough time to learn from their Jeff Jarvis fiasco. They lost measurable sales, let alone the intangible damage they caused to themselves. Perhaps 2006 will be the year companies realize that for every 100 or so mistreated customer there is a high-powered blogger who will publish their story? Anything less then excellent customer service is going to be very-very costly.
Update (12/31): Gee, it must be really slow if this made it to Memeorandum
Update (1/09): Customer Service, Dell, Yahoo, Flames and Blogs
on second thought … MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Yes, I know, it’s still $25 a month, which really isn’t that much. And I’ve been a loyal customer for 3 years now, through good and bad times – mostly good nowadays, but the early days were at times shaky. 5 bucks less wasn’t enough to drive to another provider, although I admit those free calls to Europe by Lingo sounded quite tempting … but here I am, still with Vonage.
Eventually it might be Vonage themselves that drive me to another provider. Just because the time will come when I no longer like them. Part of what I used to like was the simplicity, transparency of their plans – everything included in on price, no hidden charges, tariffs, good-old-phone-company-games. Or so I thought… but when for my recent trip I wanted to download their SoftPhone, I found out I needed a separate account, with another number, and a limit of 400 minutes. WTF when I already have an unlimited plan with them? Needless to say I ended up not bothering about Softphone, there is always Skype:-)
Now here’s this ad in my email box:
Recently featured in Men’s Health magazine as one of the top 100 Best New Tech Toys For Men, Vonage’s hottest new device, the Wi-Fi phone, is now available!
It’s easy – use it with your own wireless Internet network or when traveling and have access to a compatible Wi-Fi hotspot. It’s great for people on the go. All you have to do is go to any compatible hotspot found in airports, coffee bars, and nearly everywhere and use the Wi-Fi phone. And remember, to purchase a Wi-Fi phone, you will need to open a separate Vonage account. Click here for details.
Great! This is a nice phone, I never liked the expensive but unintelligent 5.8Ghz unit at home, and this one gives me mobility (of course I’d perefer a Wifi/Cell combo, but I guess that’s a year away…).
But what’s wrong with these guys? To get the phone I need yet another account? Don’t they get it? Softphone, Wifi phone, ATA … these are just different devices that I should be able to purchase with the one-and-only regular Vonage plan. Or do they think the unlimited plan is too generous – now that their competitors have better plans? How about having to deal with 3 separate phone numbers? I have this bead feeling that a former innovator is trying to turn the wheels backward. Wake up Vonage! Customer loyalty is a terrible thing to lose.
- What’s wrong with Vonage?
- Callvantage praised, Vonage shredded
- Vonage Spams (again)
- Vonage to sell Wi-Fi Phone
- Vonage adds Wi-Fi
- Enough Of These Damn VoIP Silos
Little did Jeff Clavier or Brad Feld know just how timely their posts on “Shared Nothing Architecture” would become in days now that the granddaddy of all on-demand software, Salesforce.com was partially knocked out for almost a day.
The Typepad outage that prompted Brad and Jeff write their piece was just storm in a teacup; this is the real thing, the Perfect Storm. Real business customers could not conduct their business for a day. That something like this would happen was inevitable, but didnt’ we all expect it in the form of a major Internet outage? After all, on-demand vendors are likely to do everything in their power to avoid such outages – or do they? In the case of Salesforce.com, the answer is probably a yes: Earlier this year, Salesforce.com announced it would spend US$50 million to set up redundant East Coast and West Coast data centers with rapid data replication and failover capabilities, an initiative it dubbed “MirrorForce.” (source: IDG).
That’s exactly the kind of commitment Brad and Jeff are asking for, and not all (smaller) providers can afford it. Not that they all should… their core competency being in developing innvative software, not running data centers, which should be outsourced to the “pros” like Vinnie Mirchandani pointed it out numerous times.
Back to our “Perfect Storm”, it will have an effect on the entire on-demand industry, since Salesforce.com is such an icon for this segment. SAP, Oracle etc… will no doubt refer to this “vulnerability” in their sales pitches. Rival NetSuite will not brag about it on their homepage, but their salesforce will likely be trained to point out to prospects why this could never happen to them …
What exactly happened is still unknown – which in itself is quite a customer communications fiasco on Salesforce.com’s part. I bet it will soon be fixed though: the company will come forward with an explanation of what happened, what they do to avoid it in the future, and what they do to accomodate their customers who suffered from the outage. My bet is on Marc Benioff – he will somehow manage to turn this fiasco into a PR victory.
Talk about communication, I am amazed the blogosphere is not abuzz with this story – in fact it’s hardly being mentioned, in sharp contrast to the recent Typepad outage. Isn’t this the type of imbalance Chris Selland and Brad Feld just complained about? Or is everyone out Christmas shopping? Ohh… stores close soon .. gotta run now:-)
P.S. Salesforceless.com is a valid site – I just bought it. (not that I know what to do with it… )
Update (12/21): Others on the subject:
- Jeff Nolan
- Chris Selland
- Digging In
- The Stalwart
- Extranet Evolution
Update (12/23): Unlike Salesforce(less).com, TechCrunch is not mission critical software, just an extremely popular blog, yet when they have an outage, Mike finds it important enough to go public right-away. Way to go!
Update (12/31): Reuters talks about Web Services outages, citing Typepad, del.icio.us … etc, not even mentioning Salesforce(less).com. Funny… Nice-to-have services appear to be more important than mission critical business applications?
The talent to produce satirical / scandalous (pick one) videos.
Video scandal rocks S.F. police, says the Chronicle. Hm.. Most Politically Incorrectly, I tend to side with Patrick, in that a stupid little prank got blown way out of proportion. Nevertheless, the genie is out of the bottle, and now there is no turning back.
But wait… if these videos were scandalous, then what exactly is the British Royal Navy’s interpretation of Bohemian Rhapsody (by the Queen)? Produced on board the HMS Campbelltown while on patrol in the Indian Ocean:
If for some reason the embedded video does not play, watch it here.