The Purpose Of Customers
I had a power outage at my house this morning and was without electricity for a while. We all come to expect that now and then from our utility providers. This morning I happened to be Johnny-on-the-spot and called right away. The agent who answered was polite enough when he acknowledged that he didn’t know anything about the outage because no one else had reported it yet. I always knew this was the case but never really thought about how ridiculous it was to have your customers be your first line of monitoring. How can companies, year after year, look at their processes and decide that they are doing fine by waiting for the customer complaints to come rolling in before they react to a problem.
This seems ridiculous for a utility company but even more so for a SaaS or Web 2.0 company. Unfortunately this occurs all the time. Technology staffs state things like “we know we have a problem when we start getting emails from customers.” If that’s your first signal you are too late! Get some monitoring setup on your system and services to warn you about potential issues so you can either react to prevent a problem or proactively notify your customers. Contrary to what some belief customers are there to use your service not debug or monitor your application.
Think how much better I would have felt about my utility company had the agent who answered stated that they knew I was one of a hundred homes in the area without power and that they had dispatched a crew to fix the problem, initial estimates were 2 hours.