The Implied Responsibility of Communications Providers

The Implied Responsibility of Communications Providers

Okay, I promise to go Twitter free next week, but for now, an interesting observation…

Yesterday, Twitter went down for about 3 hours. The general experience provoked a few thoughts. Firstly, I thought of the Twitter addicted, jonesing at their keyboards, hitting refresh endlessly in a forlorn hope the service will return.

But then I thought more on the idea of what happens when your communication means becomes a part of peoples lives.  I’ve been here before, since the Forum literally reached that level for New England Saltwater Fly Fishermen, who are, like most Twitter users, type A obsessive compulsives.  It’s a special kind of feeling to know that your important service has become a singular point of contact for many people.  That suggests that if it goes away, you’ve put those folks out of touch.

In my experience, services that provide such a commjunications will face a known, predictable response when are repeated failures:

  1. To begin with, everyone thinks of it as an abnormal situation and don’t push to hard.  Oh gee, there was an outage…
  2. Subsequent outages provoke concern.  Users ask where they can send get well cards.
  3. From there, we move on to anger.  You get phone calls…at night…on unlisted numbers, and they’re not utterly pleasant.
  4. From there, if the problems continue, the noise quickly subsides.  No more calls, no more emails from users.  You’ve reached the point that your users simply don’t care anymore, either that or you just don’t have any users anymore.

Th critical litmus test is this: people will not complain if they don’t care about you.

I’m generally concerned about using a communications means that’s provided by a single source, not knowing how scaleable their own infrastructure is.  They’ve also got a very open api that allows most users to access using tools other than the standard Twitter homepage.   That disparity of tools also creates a disparity in user experience.

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