Weblogs and customer service

Weblogs and customer service.

My earlier post about using Feedster to get status updates about Dreamhost's (my personal web hosting provider) outage resulted in an honest, timely, and personal direct e-mail response from the folks over at Dreamhost:

This is Jeff with DreamHost Quality Control. I ran into your weblog posting and thought I'd take a moment to get back to you.

We definitely recognize the failings on our part to get the word out about the DDOS-related network outage yesterday, and are already in the process of brainstorming ways to ensure that our customers are alerted to such problems more easily (this is the second time in recent history where an outage has made it difficult to notify our customers about it).

Right now, one possibility we're looking into would be to provide a remotely hosted – outside of our network – status page for use in emergencies with a current status of our network availability. While we wouldn't be able to provide quite as much detail as we can when you are logged into the web panel (as it would need to be generalized), at least it would be available pretty much immediately.

Your idea of an RSS feed is also a good one, and something to consider. We're still a bit swamped here with customer concerns, but once the dust settles we're going to be soliciting feedback and making improvements as necessary.

If you have any questions (or other ideas!), please feel free to contact me ([email omitted — CD]).

I wrote Jeff back to praise his response and ask if he minded if I quoted his e-mail as an excellent example of a business watching weblogs and responding to customer concerns within them. He replied:

Thanks for the kind and thoughtful words, and for the heads-up. While I subscribe to a number of feeds I hadn't known about Feedster until reading your blog entry – I'm checking it out now.

As for DreamHost, we definitely keep an eye on a lot of the major weblogs, in part because so many of our own customers are VERY prolific bloggers, and because it's such a great way to receive useful, unfiltered feedback – often within hours of an event such as this (surveys are good too, but they are sometimes limited in that we unknowingly ask the wrong questions).

Anyhow, there's a lot of discussion going on internally about solving this particular communications problem. If you subscribe to our newsletter, you'll probably be hearing more about this soon.

No business is perfect, and I know very well that bad things can happen with technology. But when businesses like Dreamhost are direct and forthright with me about their failures, I'm willing to roll with the punches just a little bit more. Dreamhost keeps my business in this case.  [Chad Dickerson]

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