Someone out there has an almighty grudge against Network Solutions, the tech company well known for its domain registration services.
This week, the company has suffered from a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack which caused an outage within Network Solutions’ infrastructure.
Not that you would have known anything about it if you had checked out the company’s Facebook, Twitter account or website. When I first heard about the problem with Network Solutions’ systems yesterday they had made no official acknowledgement of any problem, leading to a lot of frustrated customers.
I think most of us accept that internet companies can have technical difficulties from time-to-time, and - in the main - users are remarkably forgiving of companies that are pro-active, transparent and prepared to disclose what the heck is going on.
Sites like Twitter and Facebook are a perfect crisis communications platform for companies who are suffering a glitch, some unexpected downtime, or - worse - are finding their systems under attack from a crippling denial-of-service attack.
They provide a simple, public and direct method for communicating with concerned customers who will feel angry if left in the dark for too long.
As one customer wrote on Network Solutions’ Facebook page:
I have been a NetSol loyal customer since the 1990s...
NetSol had great service and products, then WEB.COM purchased Net Sol. Nothing but headaches since then. WEB.COM you need to focus on your customers!
Even if all the facts aren’t known it’s better to tweet something saying “We know some users are experiencing a problem. We’re looking into it. We’ll post an update in 30 minutes” than saying nothing at all. That can take the wind out of the sails of customers who are getting more and more aggrieved the longer they feel their complaints are being ignored.
Tweeting hours later, once the issue has been resolved, just doesn’t cut the mustard.
There’s no disputing that Network Solutions is a victim here of a malicious attack designed to disrupt its business. It’s not pleasant for any internet firm to face the brunt of a co-ordinated DDoS attack designed to prevent customers from accessing your services.
But that’s no excuse for amateur communications with customers. Your customers will judge you by how well you handle crises like these, much more than how well you handle your triumphs.