Monday, April 10, 2017

What is a StatusHub

Simply put it is the best way of letting people know when something works, is broken, getting fixed or updated.

Shit happens. Everybody knows it, but nobody likes to be kept in the dark when it does. Running websites software tools and mobile applications is tough. If you have ever been involved with a web project, you know it takes a lot of time, talent and resources just to get them finished, let alone keeping them live. All this before the inevitable bugs rise to the top, just like proverbial cream.

Much like the straw that broke the camels back. These bugs can cause problems for you. Not before long customers get annoyed and start looking at switching to your competitors. Before you have the chance to say sorry, the company's bottom line has taken a beaten only the likes one of Rocky's opponents have seen. Now your palms are sweaty, and knees are weak as you sit in the hot seat trying to figure out what happened.

Cows moo, sites crash, ducks quack and Things break. Everyone knows and understands that. However, what really winds them up is not know what happened, why it happened and what you are doing to fix it. This lack of communication makes the feel like you don't want them to know or even care if they know.

With a StatusHub, you have an always up crisis communications tool so if every piece of tech you own breaks, you will have access to a flexible tool to let both your employees and customers know what is happening. This method of open communication creates a beneficial environment for everyone involved.

With the added benefit of your hub sending emails, SMS and updates via webhooks your customers always have some assurance that you are working on fixing the issue.  This, in turn, makes them feel more valued and respected because you are keeping them in the loop. Your employees also benefit because instead of pouring through endless emails and calls, time has now been freed up so they can actually fix the problem at hand. 

With a StatusHub in place, it prevents a technology problem from becoming a people problem. But simply having a StatusHub is not enough. You must ensure it is well-run this involves three essential elements: your Hub, your control panel, and your subscribers


Your StatusHub is where you show people the status of your site and services. As we host your hub outside of your environment,  if your whole site and services were to fail, your hub will be up and running. This is where you will direct people so they can see the status or your service. The hub will also inform them about any current incidents and scheduled maintenance.

If this hub should only be seen internally, then we can offer you a number of options to make your page private allowing only those you want to see the hub and any updates posted to it.

Control Panel

To update and configure your hub, you and your authorised team members have access to the managed portal You can access and update from your manage portal anywhere you have a web connection, from any device with a web browser.

Here is where you post incidents and maintenance. Incidents can be created manually, via the control panel or they can be generated automatically, by integrating with your monitoring tools. From the control panel, you will also be able to customise your hub.


Much like a blog needs subscribers to get any traction so does your StatusHub.  By having your customers and employees subscribe to your StatusHub, you can empower them, so they get immediate notifications the moment you update your hub.

Through these subscriptions, they can choose whether they want to be notified via email, SMS or Webhook integration. This gives your customers and employees to stay up to date with the status of your services 24/7/365. Instead of wondering what is going on, every time you update your hub, notifications will be sent to them in a way that you can be sure they will always read them. Now your customers and employees will always know the status of your services.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sorry is Never Underrated

Early in my career, I was told in training never to use the words "I am sorry" as this implied I or the company was guilty of something.

This went against everything I was taught growing up. I had been taught to apologise whenever I had caused someone pain whether it was intentional or by accident. But merely apologising was not enough as it was far too easy to say "I'm sorry" without having any meaning behind the words. This is why I was taught to realise why I was saying sorry was I just saying it to get out of a difficult situation as quickly as possible. Or was I saying because I actually took some time to realise that my cock-up had put this person into a terrible situation I would never want to be in myself?

So when I was told that I should never say sorry to a customer I was left somewhat confused. Was this a twisted ploy to try and hold power over the customer. Was it out of fear that the customer would leave the company. Or was it out of some narcissistic belief that they could do no wrong?

Naturally, I believed that if we were to provide exceptional customer service and build relationships with our customers we had to be willing to apologise. Saying sorry wasn't  an admission of guilt but rather about taking responsibility and showing the customer our desire and passion for serving and caring for their needs.

The fact that the customer was willing to take time out of their day to complain. Showed me that while they were not happy with something they were still interested in doing business with our company. When this happened it was an opportunity for us to wow the customer, to show them that we care about them and the experience they have with us and our service. Saying sorry here was shameful or was it an admission of guilt. Rather showing empathy here was our opportunity to show the customer that we care. It was a chance to reaffirm our commitment to them. It was a chance to improve on our business and the service we provided and wow the customer even more.

Taking this approach over the last 7 years I have learnt the following:

Sorry ≠ Guilt

For example, you are attending a funeral and offering the family your condolences, or your friend tells you that they have been diagnosed with an illness your instincts tell you to say sorry. In both cases, you have said that you were sorry and it didn't mean you were guilty of something. Like many other words "sorry" is just one way of expressing empathy. l am sorry..... doesn't mean that you were the cause of it.

When a customer is upset, own it, don't back away from it

This is a moment your customers will always remember. So don't fuck it up.  If a customer ever feels you were dismissive of their issue they will be quick to leave your company but not before telling their friend sand family never to do business with you.

But if you take the opportunity to turn it into an incredible moment they will remember you and your company and how you went above and beyond for them. putting them on the road to becoming a loyal customer.

Don't take it personally

Customers can get upset for many reasons. So don't take their outburst as a personal attack. It never is.

Don't try to analyse them or whether their outburst is valid. Don't try to see who really is at fault. Don't even act impartially. Because all you will end up doing is wasting your time and theirs. Instead offer an unfiltered, unadulterated full out "WE ARE SORRY".  Follow up with a commitment to resolve their issue going all the way to them true empathy.

Have a slice of humble pie

Humiliation and humility are not the same. By being humble you can put the customer's needs ahead of your own. This is not humiliation - the emotion that drives the guilty versus sorry debate. A debate I believe to be nothing more than a waste of good oxygen. As the debate sidetracks you from the goal of keeping you customers after their expectations have not been met or when they have had a less than desirable experience with your service.

Invest in a StatusHub

When you experience an issue, your customers will complain this will leave you with two options admit the issue and apologise or deny that it exists.

Within business, issues will occur and customers have come to expect it. However, if you always wait for your customers to find them before admitting they exist saying sorry will quickly lose all meaning.

By investing in a StatusHub you can link it to your monitoring systems and inform your customers of issues as they arise. This shows your customers that you are aware of existing issues and are working to fix them. Resulting in you building trust with your customers and having to use the word sorry a lot less. So when you do say "I am Sorry" your customers will know you really mean it.

There is a lot of great companies using StatusHub including Emarsys, Emailage, Concur, the University of Wales and Citrix. If you don’t have a status page for your product, take a look an article I published last year which discusses the 3 signs you should invest in a StatusHub.

If you would like to set up your own status page. You can avail of a 14-day free trial when you sign up with today.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

What we can learn about customer support from St. Patrick

With less than 24hrs to go to St. Patrick's Day, every man, woman, and child around the world are gearing to proudly celebrate their  Irish heritage, even those who are not Irish often joining in the celebrations. Yet, when most people think of St. Patrick's Day they could easily be forgiven for thinking it is just a day for wearing every item of green clothing you have, heading to the parade and ending the day by drowning the shamrock in your local pub, with your family and friends.

However, while all this seems like a barrel of laughs, there so much more to St. Patrick than these traditions.

Born into a wealthy British family near Somerset, Patrick lived with his mother and father who was deacon until he was 16. When a raid took place on his family's estate and he was kidnapped. Shortly afterwards, he was sold into slavery in Dalriada and brought Ireland. Where he spent the next 6 years tending to sheep. One night he a dream he heard God telling him to escape. After walking over 200 miles St. Patrick came across a ship where he convinced the crew to grant him safe passage home.

Returning home in Patrick was now in his early 20's. He spent the next 7 years studying to become a priest. After practising as a priest for a number of years, Patrick travelled to France where he became a bishop. Soon after he became a bishop, Patrick began to dream of Ireland and its people. In these dreams, they were crying out to him to come back to Ireland.

Soon afterwards, he left France and returned to Ireland where he spread Christianity far and wide. During his time in Ireland, he is believed to have carried out a number of miracles, including driving all the snakes out of the country and once giving a sermon so long that his staff grew roots and became a living tree. Patrick is also believed to have invented the Celtic Cross.

However long before he became a saint and behind all the myths and legends, Patrick displayed some imitable qualities that extend well beyond religion. Through those qualities, we can learn how to improve support for our customers.

Be Adaptable

When Patrick first came to Ireland, it would be safe to say he had never looked after sheep before. Despite this, he worked for the next 6 years as a shepherd. Often in supporting customers, it will be their first time using the software or service you provide. At times like this, you must adapt the support you provide to ensure that both you and the customer is successful during their time with your company.

Some days bring out the thorns in roses; others bring out the aroma. You have to have both in order to have a balanced perspective.

Be Relentless 

Undeterred by all he had been through, Patrick found a way to return back to Ireland on a mission to convert pagans to Christianity. This wasn’t a short mission – he spent years and years just covering the north of Ireland.

By creating exceptional messaging, from the first moment a customer interacts with your brand, you will have taken the first step in making them feel so valued that they can’t help share that message. However, if you don’t live up to your brand’s promises, you will lose trust with potential ambassadors.

Forrester reports that leaders in customer experience outperform their peers by 22.6%. If your clients and customers require real-time responses and online presence, you need to have a social plan in place for reaction 24/7/365.

Reach out to people

Though St. Patrick’s Day is often lauded with green beer, bacon and cabbage and plenty of green attire, his legend goes far beyond the superficial tokens. For example, St. Patrick is credited with introducing the shamrock as a symbol of the Holy Trinity in order to illustrate three beings in one to the Irish people.

Though the true legend St.Patrick left behind, was a day where everyone around the world celebrates, a day where you don't have to be Irish to be Irish.

In supporting you customers, relationships with people will be the greatest asset you can ever have. You never know when someone will be inspired by your dream and eager to assist you. Reaching out to customers on a regular basis, whether or not they have any issues will only help you build this kind of relationship.

Celebrate your victory's

Each year, millions of pints of beer are consumed. In fact, in the U.S alone over $4.8 billion dollars was spent last year with 30.5% of Americans choosing to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at a bar or restaurant.

In any career, you have to take the time to step back, reflect on what you’ve done and celebrate. Even if it’s only baby steps.

However, you choose to celebrate this weekend be it wearing, eating and drinking anything and everything green, heading to the parade, giving the Blarney Stone a great big kiss, or simply wearing some shamrock. emulating the qualities of St. Patrick is something we should all look to aspire to. So wherever you go and whatever you do.

Go n-éirí an bóthar leat
Go raibh an ghaoth go brách ag do chúl
Go lonraí an ghrian go te ar d'aghaidh
Go dtite an bháisteach go mín ar do pháirceanna
Agus go mbuailimid le chéile arís,
Go gcoinní Dia i mbos A láimhe thú.

Friday, March 3, 2017

How Vulnerability Can Improve Your Customer Relationships.

Growing up in the 90's, television and movies portrayed the typical 'business man' archetype, as someone who was a steely-eyed gentleman in a freshly pressed suit and often with hat to match. These men sometimes came with a cigar in hand, and they rarely smiled or exhibited any emotion whatsoever.

Looking back I can that this vision of a 'business man' came from a belief that prevailed for generations, "to be a great leader you had to show zero positive emotion around those who look up to you, to be a pillar of stoicism". Yet in what was supposed to come across as a symbol of strength, I could see fear. A fear of being vulnerable.

Even today, many people believe that being vulnerable is something to be feared, as it somehow implies that you are weak or defenceless. In fact, when someone is willing to admit they’re vulnerable, it demonstrates a level of trust and respect with the person or people you’re opening up to. I am not going to lie; it is hard to admit you are vulnerable. But when do it can mean a complete transformation in relationships and performance. It can offer opportunities to connect with customers in a way that makes them believe with their entire being that you are the solution to their problem.

Personal experience has taught me that revealing a little bit of vulnerability can go a long way in your relationships, both personally and professionally. One of the best leaders, I’ve known was willing to let a few of the cracks show, and aimed for honesty rather than perceived perfection. This is also crucial to getting, keeping and satisfying customers.

The following points will help you to give your customers the gift of vulnerability;

Change your view on vulnerability

Since we have been in nappies our nature reaction when something with awry was to cover it up. As professionals, many of us continue this behaviour by making things appear less disastrous than they are when they don't go as planned.

However, as kids when we tried to cover up our mess, it always came back to bite us in the ass when truth out about our lies was uncovered. So why have we not learnt our lesson, is it that we don't respect ourselves enough, to tell the truth, or our customer's enough to think they can handle the truth.

Being vulnerable is not a bad thing nor does it make you weak. Instead, you stop wasting energy inventing lies to protect yourself from what you do not your customers to see.

By shifting your mindset to accept to being vulnerable as an asset, you stop worrying about having the answer to every question and realise that its ok to make mistakes. After all, it is through these mistakes that we learnt and continue to learn as adults. However, when you or your team makes a mistake, you should admit it and admit it quickly. You should always be the first one to call attention to a misstep, instead of waiting to see if a customer catches it.

Once you are willing to admit the mistake you have to be willing, to tell the truth about why it happened. If the truth is that someone within your organisation dropped the ball. Be forthright, apologise and then explain exactly how you plan to solve the problem. Running a business is tough you expect the best from everyone and in turn, your customers expect the best from you. However, they also understand that you’re human.

So be honest, and then work your hardest to move on from your error and try to never make the same one again.

Confidence is key

Allowing your yourself to become vulnerable means you become transparent with your customers. However, when you start to offer your customers transparency you need to do so with confidence so that you don't give them a reason to lose certainty in your abilities.

To put it simply, you want to relay problems honestly while not undermining how awesome you are. Your customers are entrusting you with their money, after all, so a lack of self-confidence could make them second-guess your entire relationship together. Surely, this is the last thing you want!

The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem - Captain Jack Sparrow
When you are offering your customer a piece of information, you first have to ask why it is you are offering them this information.

Every time you consider being totally transparent, the best rule of thumb is to do so when an action by someone on your team is likely to impact your customer directly. The same rule of thumb applies when you offer your customers software as a service and it experiences an issue. ( i.e. Does this issue directly impact any of your customers?)

If so, and you want to get ahead of the issue, you should be the first to bring it up. If not, you can probably spare your client from being burdened with unnecessary information.

Do you want your customers to trust you?

Vulnerability, transparency they both ultimately boil down a matter of trust. Your customers need to be able to trust you unequivocally to do the job you promised to do.

This is something with which you should never gamble. A late deliverable, an error on pricing and a mishap with technology all have one thing in common: they can all be rectified. And they also don’t have to damage your relationship if you’re proactively transparent as soon as possible. Lying and manipulating are of another nature entirely, and severe trust while weakening your credibility.

So, aim to be truthful in all your interactions with your customers. Vulnerability is a big gift and when used appropriately, you can prove your trustworthiness while helping to connect more authentically with your customers.

We can help

With services like StatusHub, you can foster stronger relationships with your customers by exposing issues your company is currently facing. With StatusHub you can also warn your customers about future plans that may affect how they use your services.

By offering a centralised hub where you can communicate with all your customers at the same time via a dedicated web page, SMS and email. You can have more time to focus on the issue at hand.

Sign up for a 14-day free trial today to see how StatusHub can help you, change your view on vulnerability and improve the relationships you have with your customers as a result.