Google E-Mail Outage – A Great Example Of Good Customer Service

Around 12:30PM PST yesterday Google had a pretty significant e-mail outage that lasted a little over an hour and a half.

For a heavily utilized service like Google, this is HUGE. There’s many businesses small and large that rely on Google e-mail to be functioning in order to get business done.

So now you may be wondering…How is this a great example of good customer service?

Stay with me for a sec on this…

Later in the day Ben Treynor, VP Engineering and Site Reliability Czar for Google added  a post to the Gmail blog. In the post they not only accepted full responsibility for what happenned, but outlined what happenned (in the least techie way possible) and let people know what they were going to do to help keep it from happenning in the future.

It seems like so often tech companies and even non-tech companies skirt around issues and fail to accept responsibility for what they did or didn’t do. Then they fail to learn from their mistakes and repeat incidents, again not accepting responsibility or truly addressing what the core issues are.

Technology is hard to manage and hard to keep up. In my 16+ years in the tech field I experienced some of the same things as Google did yesterday – just on a smaller scale. Routine maintenance or procedures would lead to a major outage, even with lots of careful planning and back-up plans.

So the lesson for all businesses (both tech and non-tech) to learn from Google’s issue and Google’s response…

1. Plan, plan, plan and then plan some more – Try to avoid over analyzing things, but always remember that anything can and often will happen, especially when you’re least prepared for it.

2. Work the problem…not the people – Focus on getting things working and back to normal, don’t start pointing fingers. If it’s up to one group or person to resolve then work with them. Offer them your help, support and encouragement. When I was in I.T. my immediate supervisor Tim Johnson and our OPs group VP Rick Shumacher were great about just letting me work the problem. They stood back and let me do what I needed to do, the whole time letting me know they were there if I needed them.

3. Keep people up-to-date – You don’t need to overwhelm people with status updates, but don’t keep silent. Nothing induces more fear or uncertainty and  lack of confidence than not knowing what’s going on.

4. Let the dust settle – Once the issue has been taken care of, let things settle, let people get some sleep and then debrief on what happenned. Sometimes the situation may not even be totally over and some additional things need to be addressed before a really good debrief can happen.

5. Work the problem…not the people – No, this isn’t a mistype, or a cut and paste mistake. When you debrief focus on what happened and what can be done to prevent future issues – not who did what and how idiotic it may be.

  • Mistake Makers – If you made a mistake then admit your fault and let people know what you learned from it to avoid doing it again. Admitting to mistakes will carry far more weight than trying to hide a mistake you made. Trust me, eventually people will find out.
  • Mistake Maker Managers/Supervisors – Work with your staff to help them avoid making the same mistake. Remember what it feels like to make a mistake and the courage it takes to admit you made one. This is a learning experience for everyone.

6. Final update – Update everyone and assume group responsibility for what happened as well as what steps are being taken in the future to avoid the same issue. DO NOT LAY BLAME ON AN INDIVIDUAL – this is the biggest way to kill someone’s drive and determination to do better.

7. Put it into practice – Take everything you’ve learned and actually put it into place. Nothing looks worse than having the same issue happen again because no one bothered to implement what was learned.

For my REALTOR® readers –
All of this can apply to all of your transactions as well. In fact the one thing that’s most important is keeping your client apprised as to what’s going on. The one thing we keep hearing that is important to buyers and sellers is that they’re kept up to date, even if there is no new news.

When you have issues learn from what happened and apply them to your future transactions. Maybe you’ll need to switch vendors, maybe you’ll need to change how your staff interact with customers, maybe you’ll need to change how you do things.  Don’t let bad transactions fall by the wayside…there’s a lesson to be learned in all of them.

As far as Google goes I have even more confidence in them, their services and their products. I love how they handeled everything and while it was in inconvenience, this stuff happens. What matters is how they handled the situation and what they’re doing to avoid future problems.  GO GOOGLE!!!!

Twitter Growth Continues & Facebook Still #1

Nielsen Online reports that Twitter continues to see incredible growth up 1,444% over last year and people are spending more time on the site.

You can check out the article by clicking HERE and also see how Facebook has retained its #1 social networking spot for the 7th month in a row.

So…REALTORS® finally ready to learn about how to use these tools and go where the clients are?

The White House Is Tweeting…Are You?

I gotta say that I’m incredibly impressed by how much our government has embraced social media and networking. They’re getting information out to people in a manner in which they really like to get it.

Found this great article on how the White House is now using Twitter to communicated updates. It also talks about how the different technologies are being implemented across the board.

So for all my REALTOR® readers out there that have as yet to fully embrace the goodness that is social media and social networking…WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??????

Please don’t tell me that you’re going to let the federal government out do you….

Time to start socializing on Facebook, Tweeting important updates on the market and posting home tour videos on YouTube.

It’s all free too! All you need to do is invest some time and be open to getting into something new…trust me it’ll be worth it.

Marketing Done Right!

As I was headed from the Metrolink to the Red Line at Union Station I was handed this….
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After first thinking….”Cool, something for free…free rocks!” I then started realizing how brilliant a marketing strategy this was.

They were passing them out in an area where they’re going to get to THOUSANDS of their target customer group – business people and commuters who want a quick and simple lunch that’s easy to carry.

Imagine the impact it had on the people who had forgotten to bring a lunch, or didn’t have time to pack a lunch because they had to rush out the door. If it was me I’d be more likely to actually go and buy the product later because they helped me keep from having to shell out $10-$15 for lunch.

As I got to the red line people were looking at the boxes – checking it out – THEY WERE LOOKING AT THE PRODUCT – that’s huge!

So how are you marketing yourself?

Are you where the clients are looking?

Are you providing something of use?

Are you helping them out?

Granted REALTORS® may not have a physical product to hand out, but they do have their knowledge to give away. They have their experience and wisdom to share. They have market data to share.

In a housing market like this, information & data is KEY!

So when you’re thinking about marketing your services think about how you can not only make sure you’re in front of potential clients but how you can make their lives easier and a little happier.

For those of you wondering how the sandwich tastes? Not sure yet. I may not have it today for lunch, but I will have it and I’ll let you know what I think.

In the meantime…get working on that marketing…get in front of those clients!