Thursday, May 12, 2016

Why use statushub? Because we've walked a mile in your shoes.

You can never truly understand someone's situation until you've walked a mile in their shoes. We've walked some miles. Walked in gum. Almost got turned into roadkill. Moonwalked across streets. The works. We've done it all. Got t-shirts, beanie hats, high-fives, back-slaps and slaps to the face to prove it.

Most of the time, we take SaaS services from people who are fantastic developers who have created some killer tools to use in business. However, one flaw with some of these is the tools are sometimes created by people who've never actually dealt with the issue their software is fixing, and the only way they can make the service better is from over-time user feedback.

We didn't create statushub. Let's get that out of the way up-front. We acquired it last year. However, we were users of statushub before we bought it. We were implementing it as part of various solutions we designed for people and were actually building out for others. Why? Because it made perfect sense to give the solutions completeness.

We very often found ourselves where we were doing managed service solutions or IaaS for people where pro-active updates or on-the-fly updates to users of the service were absolutely necessary. And ad-hoc-ing it was just not an option for some of them.

But, lets go back a bit in time to before the days of high speed connectivity. I started my own career working in call centers for Internet Service Providers like AOL. I remember the days on outages or POP issues where in-bound calls annihilated the support desk, and there'd be a red haze coming across the call center (sometimes smoke) from the call monitoring board. It was insane. And at that time people having two dial-ups was unheard of. In fact, I remember that some people would connect over Compuserve just so they could go into TechChat on AOL (hands up those who remember AOL keywords) to find out what was going on. AOL to their credit did have an area inside their support section of their application that did sometimes show issues on certain POP's.

Roll forwards to 2006, and I'm working in one of Ireland's biggest (if not the biggest) hosting and first cloud IaaS provider, Hosting365. We had outages. And boy dealing with irate customers who were paying premiums back then for servers in the cloud was a learning experience. But, back then we did operate a basic service page. The problem was, it never pro-actively sent out messages to customers to let them know something was broken. They either found out over twitter, or after a call in to speak to myself or one of my colleagues in account management.

In 2009, we had a shiny new dashboard that looked pretty cool. Back then even in 2009, we had the site connected to Pingdom to provide the updates. But, the problem still existed that it did not pro-actively send out updates to customers as things happened to help reduce in-bound call volumes.

Even with the live chat on the site, and having a support team who really worked their asses off collectively, the site was 'passive' in its function. But, none-the-less with was a learning lesson with the kinds of customers we had in Hosting365 which ranged from tech start-ups at the time such as StatCounter to enterprise customers such as the Irish Stock Exchange.

If you consider the present day, the above screenshot from my H365 hay day is still pretty prevalent today as the 'go-to' solution for status sites for many companies. But, it being a passive service is not customer friendly. It just doesn't cut it for today's users of online services where we exist in a sphere of 'as-a-service' this/that/the-other and are so used to up-to-the-minute details flying across our screen from everywhere.

And expecting all of your users to follow you on twitter to get updates? Again - it's passive, lazy & expects too much of them. Alot of businesses don't have the people who need to know 'on-twitter', & you're not going to frog march them onto twitter just to get service status updates about your company's services to them. It's wholly unrealistic.

This is why dedicated and hosted status page solutions exist. This is how when we say we understand your issues as a business who should have one of these solutions, we get it. All of the team have tread through the same mud, sweat and tears as every single one of our statushub customers.

Every single person in our team has been involved in aspects of customer service and experience provision where one of these was needed, and had to be implemented; whether its the blog-masquerading as a status page, or manning twitter or website chats to handle these, or being strapped into a call center chair to take calls from customers who just want to know what the heck is going on, & when the issues will stop interrupting their service usage so they can get on with the core of their business operations. Statushub is run by people who know what its like to manage services, build services and implement services at every level from start-ups to enterprise. We know your pains and we're here to help.