SixApart is one of the companies largely responsible for the migration of blogging from personal musings to the small business and corporate world. Their hosted TypePad service has been wildly popular amongst professionals. IBM legend Irving Wladawsky-Berger uses TypePad (instead of IBM’s blogging platform); Seth Godin uses it. Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, uses it. Intuit’s QuickBooks uses it here and here. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America uses it. This blog uses it. And lots more.
So when the TypePad service goes down, as it did earlier this week, it’s a pretty big deal. Lots of business blogs disappeared for hours. And if you’re the publisher of one of them, as I am, it strikes fear in your heart. Has the damn thing been swallowed up? All those thousands of words gone forever?
I was in a panic to put it politely. For me, and thousands of other customers, this was a crisis. Frustratingly, there was scant information at the time on SixApart’s supposedly real-time status blog.
Well, I’m delighted to report that 6A now gets this crisis blogging thing (see above). They’re talking to us. They’re telling us, candidly, what happened:
Both Monday’s and Tuesday’s outages were the result of hardware failures…
That’s really all customers want. We care more about being kept in the loop than about how bad the news is.
It’s just that we want the information in real-time, during the crisis. Tell us something, anything immediately. Acknowledge that there’s a problem (even a big problem) and that you’re working on it. But do it in plain English. Get the CEO to jump on the "status blog," if necessary. Don’t for heaven’s sake leave it up to your techies to pen one sentence about a "temporary service degradation." That’s jargon. It’s not communication.
Hard to do in a crisis, I know. But it’s the whole point of having a blog as a channel for real-time communication. To turn your customers, who are momentarily in a panic, into your evangelists. And who better than SixApart to model how this should be done. Thanks guys, for being responsive to my comments.
Note: turns out you can back up the contents of a TypePad blog into a file and download it to your computer. I just did it here. Now that would be a good tip to give TypePad customers, wouldn’t it? Doesn’t reflect badly on 6A and is a gentle reminder that these are just machines after all.