How to communicate with your customers

Ironically, both Dreamhost and Media Temple had the same problem on Friday due to a power outage at their building.

Here’s the way Media Temple addressed the issue to their customers.

(mt) Media Temple Operations
Availability issues on Friday, July 28th 1:00pm
2:05 PM on Jul 28, 2006 PST

At approximately 1:00PM PDT today (July 28th), the building where (mt) Media Temple’s (LA-IDC2) data center is located experienced a power related failure. Unfortunately, information from the building management at the Garland Building is sparse – lacking important detail. It is speculated that one of the building’s back-up generators created an anomaly in the power system that caused a building-wide momentary outage. This information has not been confirmed however.

(mt) Media Temple’s staff has responded to this issue with the utmost urgency by fully staffing the company and answering all customer phone calls and support tickets. At the time of this writing, all power systems are operational and (mt) engineers are currently bringing customer servers back up and repairing file systems that may have become temporarily corrupted.

This incident is clearly an unacceptable situation for our company and our customers. One aspect of (mt) Media Temple’s Scheduled Maintenance notice, sent yesterday (July 27th), was a proactive measure to address situations such as this. In light of today’s situation (mt) Media Temple has decided to accelerate its plans to move all customers in (IDC-LA2) to its new data center which is already built, and has undergone exhaustive testing to insure such power issues will not be a problem in the future. More details about this will be sent shortly.

Our President and CEO, Demian Sellfors, is making himself personally available to call customers back who wish to discuss these issues in more detail. We encourage any customer who wishes to receive a call back from Mr. Sellfors to please indicate so inside your support ticket. Shortly, he will be calling customers back individually to address any concerns and to discuss any relevant issues.

Here is how Dreamhost responded to the exact same problem:

Brief Explanation for today’s power outage
Posted 2 days, 15 hours ago (July 28th, 2006 at 3:05 pm PST) by Dallas

This note came from our building just now:

The Garland Building experienced a dead short which resulted in a
brief power outage today, July 28, 2006. The air conditioning,
elevators, and the electrical utility have all been restored.

While on generator power, a dead short occurred from one of our
internal telecom users. We are investigating where the dead short
occurred. A follow-up memo will be sent by the end of the business
day reconfirming our transfer at 11:30pm tonight. We are currently
on DWP power until further notice.

Posted in System Outages
Power restored
Posted 2 days, 16 hours ago (July 28th, 2006 at 2:34 pm PST) by Ralph

Power has been restored and most servers are up again. The few servers that are still down are being rebooted by our administrators. Still waiting on further information from the datacenter. Our apologies for the downtime this caused.

Posted in System Outages
Power outage at the datacenter
Posted 2 days, 17 hours ago (July 28th, 2006 at 1:46 pm PST) by Ralph

There has apparently been another power outage at the datacenter. We’re waiting for more information and we’ll post here as soon as we hear anything.

Funny thing is, I was so busy on Friday working on C3 stuff (which is on Pair) I didn’t even notice if had any downtime.

Neither Dreamhost or Media Temple are to blame for a power issue in their building. But look at the two responses side-by-side and judge for yourself which company has a better handle on customer service. When I am responsible for the well-being of something, no matter how much I’m paid for it, I take it personally when I can’t live up to my client’s expectations. That’s why I’m moving sites on my own time. It’s not my fault that Dreamhost went downhill so much in the past few months, but I still feel that I owe these folks an explanation and I have to do everything in my power to correct the situation so it doesn’t happen again. When will Dreamhost finally take responsibility for the fact that their customer service and support model sucks?

Sounds like a conversation I have over and over with my kids, “It wasn’t your fault that (whatever)…. but you had choices in how you reacted to (whatever) and that’s what has to change. The only thing you can control, and what you are praised or judged for, is what you do and the choices you make, even when it’s ‘not your fault’.” has just been moved. 7 more to go.