I learned this because millions of others were having the same experience. Because many of them were discussing it online I was able to conclude that it was a software malfunction that would soon be fixed by the software vendor.
What I find shockingly sad is the company that makes the software was silent throughout all this. They posted nothing on their Twitter account. I saw nothing from them in Google News. Nothing on the company blog or forum. Eventually (this morning) I found a post on their support site. I had to dig to find it.
We live in a world where this should never happen. It’s too easy to communicate with our customers to not do so.
This company should have posted to Twitter, FaceBook, their blog and relevant forums about what was going on. Because their site was being hammered with traffic, they should have posted announcements elsewhere like Posterous, Tumblr and Blogger. They could have done a short video on YouTube.
Because so many people were affected by this, just a few posts to these social media sites would have gone viral. They would have given people the information they needed when they needed it. A response like this would have held back much of the negative buzz which has damaged their reputation.
In fact it might have produced a wave of goodwill by showing the world they really care about their customers. It would have positioned them as a company that works hard to give their customers the best experience possible, even when things go wrong.
If your customers are on the Internet, they expect you to be there too. You have no excuse for not communicating with them using Web 2.0 tools. If you fail at this you risk losing your customers to those who do it better.