Typepad, the provider of the platform that this blog is written on, must have a high percentage of raving fans (aka high net promoter score). I'm one of them.
When performance slipped for an extended period recently, here's what Typepad did:
- Accepted responsibility
- Provided a minimum 15 day refund/subscription extension to everyone
- Offered customers the option of asking for more compensation, if they felt this was not sufficient
This is amazing. I've reproduced their communication at the end, which should win an award. I'd love to know what the response data looks like for this -- but I'm guessing most people were happy with the offered two weeks. Or perhaps, like me, they just didn't get around to making a decision before the deadline. [If you know how the data breaks down, send me a confidential e-mail!]
1) You're not fooling your customers when you pretend everything is fine. They know better. About two days before this message came out, I had a pleasant reply to my support enquiry telling me that my pages were slow to load because I had too much text formatting in them. D'oh? I didn't buy that for a second, actually, and thought I was being fed a load of you-know-what.
2) Coming clean in an authentic way can win you tremendous points. As I re-read their message, it does trumpet the company a lot -- but it more than makes up for it with the refund.
3) Suck it up and pay up. Without the refund, this would not have worked.
4) Don't expect this to work twice. People expect slick technology to work well first time and every time. Nobody cares about the company's problems.
A quick search on Technorati reveals that this move did indeed inspire devotion, but also some other interesting reactions. Here are some of the remarks I found:
Actions like this one renew my faith in the people who make up the often faceless corporations that tend to get away with more than any individual would in the same situation. Thank you Barak Berkowitz for making my week a little brighter. [Theoblogia]
i asked for the 45 days and told them that i'm leaving typepad when my billing cycle ends next june unless some serious changes are made. i already have a wordpress blog set up for the foodie stuff and i'd be more than happy to set up another one to host my main blog. wordpress is also free. mmmm free [a comment posted on The Long Cut]
Genius. And a far cry from the way companies such as Sony have handled recent difficulties... Of course, an apology like the one offered by Typepad only goes so far. If problems persist, then consumers will likely decide that being respected isn't the only thing they require from a blog hosting company. [On Message]
I would say that the extent of the offer to customers will exceed everyone's expectations. It certainly exceeded mine. [Neville Hobson's blog]
That's fair as far as I'm concerned, and I have little interest in "gaming" a service that is so openly showing respect for me. To Typepad, I express my deepest appreciation... It's also a classic example an "operational" decision that generates positive word-of-mouth or CGM. [Consumer Generated Media]
My Conclusion? I think this represents a high-water-mark in good service recovery.
The Hall-of-Fame Communication
Two weeks ago I wrote you to explain the problems that some of our users experienced last month and what we were doing to fix them. Today I want to tell you about the work we've done and our plans to compensate you for the inconvenience and frustration we may have caused you.
The progress we've made
Over the last two weeks we have made great strides. As we recently posted on Mena's Corner, we have made a number of significant technical changes. We have upgraded hardware throughout the service, we are about to finish installation of a new enterprise-grade data storage device and the move to our new data center is nearly complete. All of this has led to improved performance.
We are not yet perfect. One incident on Tuesday November 8th between approximately 9:00 am and noon Pacific Time caused limited access to the TypePad application. Even with that problem the performance of TypePad, as reported by our customers, our internal systems and the independent Keynote monitoring service, has improved greatly over the last 12 days.
While we are not done with our work, and there is always the chance of outages on any web service, we believe that the worst performance is behind us, and it is now time to focus on how we can make these problems up to you.
Compensation for this less than stellar performance
We are all aware that you pay for TypePad and expect to receive superior service and performance in return. At times last month, we did not provide that type of experience to all our customers and apologies are not good enough.
We also know that some customers have been more heavily impacted than others. If you often use the service on weekdays between 7:00 am and 1:00 pm Pacific Time you may have experienced one or even many periods when you had problems with TypePad's speed and responsiveness. If you use the service at other times, you may not have experienced any problems at all. After wrestling with these facts and wanting to be fair to all our users we have decided that the only option is to allow you to choose how Six Apart should compensate you.
By default, you will receive a credit for 15 free days of TypePad service. To get this credit you don't have to do anything; we will just credit your account.
That said, we recognize that customers have had different experiences with the service, so we want to give you the opportunity to choose more, or even less compensation. If you click the link below, you'll get a screen that offers you the following choices:
While the performance issues caused me some inconvenience I mainly found the service acceptable last month.
Give me 15 free days of TypePad.
The performance issues made it very difficult for me to use the service on multiple occasions during the month.
Give me 30 free days of TypePad.
The performance issues affected me greatly, making my experience unacceptable for most of the month.
Give me 45 free days of TypePad.
I really wasn't affected and feel I got the great service I paid for last month.
Thank you for the offer, but please don't credit my account.
If you want to elect for more or less compensation you have until Sunday, November 27th to go to the web address above. By Monday December 5th we will apply either 15 free days or your stated compensation preference to your account. If you are billed monthly, you will notice a gap in charges to your credit card for the number of days you select. If you are billed annually, we will extend your billing cycle by the number of days you select.
I must say that one of the most rewarding aspects of these last three frustrating weeks have been the emails I have received from many of you. A large number of the messages I received were very kind and supportive, and some of you were understandably angry, but you all expressed that you just wanted the service you loved back. Rest assured that we are working night and day to do just that and more.
We are committed to making the service faster and more reliable than it has ever been. With our new data center we now have room to add the capacity we will need to continue our growth while improving performance and adding often requested features.
We will soon roll out a new release of TypePad that will include more controls for comment and TrackBack spam as well more performance improvements. By year end we will do even more to improve TypePad and add the features you have asked for. We are excited to get back to building a great product for you.
Thank you for your patience over the past several weeks and I hope you accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience we may have caused you.
Chairman and CEO
Six Apart, Ltd.
The makers of of TypePad, LiveJournal and Movable Type.
PS: As always, we appreciate and value your feedback. Feel free to reply to this message, file a support ticket in TypePad, or email me at BarakB@sixapart.com. We will continue to update status.sixapart.com to keep informed of the status of the service and to provide advance notice of scheduled maintenance.