The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

A perfect example of customer loyalty | WordPress outage

A key driver of customer loyalty is customer service, especially in the handling of crises and problems.  But there are other aspects.

WordPress for those that are not familiar, is a blogging platform.  This blog is running on WordPress.  Yesterday, late afternoon, WordPress was down for 110 minutes.  On the face of it this would be a crisis.  For example when gmail goes down, even for 2 minutes, everyone panics, predicts the end cloud computing, reflects on how this proves you cannot trust Google etc. etc.

When wordpress goes down, here is the result.

WP.com Downtime Summary

  1. Jean-Luc Crucifix
    February 19th, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Thanks for this very quick update! We appreciate it!

  2. Olivia Tejeda
    February 19th, 2010 at 12:04 am

    Honestly, I was horrified when I heard WordPress was down, but you did a great job of keeping us informed and getting back to business. Thanks so much for that!

  3. Avraham
    February 19th, 2010 at 12:04 am

    Thanks for all your hard work!

  4. jamesb101
    February 19th, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Thanks for the info…..
    I love you guys…..You’re doing a great Job….
    After I did a level 2 diagnostic check (A la Star Trek ) I knew it was the system and I just left things alone…
    Keep up the good work!

  5. Ruslan Trad
    February 19th, 2010 at 12:06 am

    We understand!:)

We love you, thank you, we understand??  There are 203 comments and they are 100% in the same vein.  There is not one comment suggesting they will leave WP, or even anything remotely negative.

On twitter these were the initial reactions.

And this was wordpress response at the time – note Matt Mullenweg is the CEO.

I have seen similar occurrences when something has gone wrong at WP and the result is always the same.

A few things stand out about wordpress.

  1. They are both personal and personable.  Users feel they are dealing with people.  First names are always used.
  2. Matt the CEO is personally engaged and it shows.
  3. There are frequent enhancements to the service that are promoted on my dashboard, and discussed on their blog and forum. They are always communicating to their users.
  4. Users care about WordPress, appreciate the service, and feel engaged with it.  so when it breaks they feel part of the problem, as opposed to Google users who have no idea who is on the other side of the wall at gmail.  There is no personality in the case of Google.

Relevance to Bankwatch:

In my little case study of one, me, WordPress and gmail are my two most commonly used apps.  They are both technically sound, equally reliable and invaluable to me.  Yet I have more perceived confidence in wordpress than gmail,  this despite the fact that logically I know that gmail has never missed a beat since inception in 2004, and I have complete confidence my mail will always be there, despite occasional hiccups.

I believe one difference must lie in personality, and knowing who I am dealing with.  I always have more confidence in the bank where I know the people than in a monolithic organisation such as a typical discount brokerage firm where there is little human contact.  Incidentally I also recognize the distinction between the immediacy of the tools which will also influence how users interpret downtime. 

The challenge then, relative to the organisational personality aspect is to create that human contact and create it in a way that is genuine, and that will scale, without having to maintain a 1,000 unit branch network for example.  The traditionalists always say that bank branches drive loyalty and new accounts.  Is it the physical locations or is it the personality that located in those locations?  How do we scale personality and personal contact.  Before everyone jumps on it this is more than a twitter solution.  My impression of twitter is that it is actually becoming highly impersonal with RT being the predominant twitter activity.

No, the challenge for banks and other organizations to develop a genuine and trusted personality online will be multi faceted yet essential in order to succeed and produce economic scale.

Written by Colin Henderson

February 19, 2010 at 15:34

Posted in Marketing, Self Service

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