A few weeks ago, Formstack experienced several hours of downtime. For U.S. customers, it probably wasn’t too big of a deal as it was in the wee hours of the morning. However, for customers who live in the UK, Europe, Australia and much of the rest of the world, it was right in the middle of a busy workday.
Overall, the downtime was extremely disappointing to us, as we work hard to keep our systems up. In fact, if you view our history, you can see that uptime is something we work very hard to achieve because we understand that our customers rely on our service.
After the outage, I struggled with how exactly to communicate this to all of our customers. In the end, I felt like the backstory and an apology was best. Overall, that communication turned out to be an amazing event for me. I learned so much.
Of about 130 emails, I was in awe of the amazing customers that we have. What a blessing it was to see such great response to something that impacted them. Below I’ve shared some of the feedback:
“Thank you for sending an email to your customers and being direct with what happened. For us, we will gladly take the unexpected downtime in stride as your company has always provided us such great service.” – Paul, Professional Sports, New York City
“Thanks for taking the time to email me such a decent follow-up. We’ll crack on for now and hope that nothing this severe happens again.” – Mark, Designer, Ireland
“Thank you very much for the email. People do make unfortunate mistakes; however, many people will not take accountability for their actions. I truly appreciate that you do and are taking measures for improvement.” – Sandra, Controller, Canada
“Mate, we LOVE Formstack!! We all make little slip ups in our business but the key for me, every time, is that if something happens, no matter how big or small, we learn from it and we put change in place – thats how we found you. You run an amazing company and you have amazing products which I am sure are all fueled by amazing people with an amazing leader. THANK YOU for adding so much simplicity to my life and keep up the awesomeness.” – Frank, Consultant, Australia
Now, it sure wasn’t all roses. We definitely ruined the days of some of our customers. I’ll share a couple of those also:
“This is unsatisfactory. It has caused us embarrassment and immeasurable damage to our reputation, as well as costing us considerably in administrative time responding to queries. “ – Art Director, Australia
“Thanks for your email. I do understand fully why it happened from a tech/process point of view, but I’m at a loss as to why you’d set things up like that. If you were some $4 a month hosting company then I’d have just had to grin and bear it, and paid for my penny pinching. It’s why I pay £100 a month for my client hosting, so that nothing ever goes wrong…” – Marketing Consultant, UK
With each of the replies that had great frustration, we worked with them and helped explain both the situation in more detail and hopefully helped provide them a good path going forward.
Since the downtime, we’ve had a number of interactions with our hosting company to ensure that communication is spread to a broader group of people to prevent this in the future. In addition, the strong message that I received during and after the downtime was how much people rely on our service. Retailers were selling their products just days before Christmas, events were being prepped, applications accepted, year-end donations processed, and much more. Overall, I’m thankful that the message was made even more clear on how much we need to create systems that support our customers and make them successful in their own enterprises.
To our customers: thanks for your support, your kindness, and for being truly awesome.
Chris Byers, Formstack CEO