When service is down – how open should you be?

Admitting Failure

Yesterday we’ve experienced probably the worse production down-time that we had since we’ve launched Totango. The intentions were good, we’ve upgrades a significant part of our infrastructure that we’ve worked on for months and unfortunately this upgrade didn’t go smooth…

We’ve been working around the clock to resolve the problem, and at the same time I felt that it’s important to openly communicate to our customers directly, with a message within the application, thru email to all of our admins, and on the company blog about the situation and to keep everybody up to date.

We’ve started getting feedback from our blog readers that we should have not have used public communication to report about the service problem. Some people of the team felt the same way, as this could very well become an ammunition to our competition, and may scare off potential customers who are in the process of evaluating our service.

This is a tough decision – how open and transparent should we really be?

I guess the world is divided into two camps:

  1. Information on a need to know basis
  2. Open and Transparent

Clearly, me and the team are part of camp #2. I believe that by being open and transparent, even at cases of failures, we will get credit for admitting to problems and resolving those.

However, option #1 should not be dismissed easily. There are many companies that keep very good image without exposing their failures publicly.

What do you think? What would you do?

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