It can happen to anyone.
Did you hear about Target’s cash registers going dark on Saturday? It was a global shutdown.
On Tuesday the 18th, Google had an “outage” which lasted several hours. Users on social media noted the problem, with snarky comments like
People make endless fun of me because I have an old school paper date book and I write everything down but now your precious Google Calendar is on the fritz and THIS OLD LADY IS STAYING ON SCHEDULE TODAY HAHA SUCKERS— Leslie Grossman (@MissLeslieG) June 18, 2019
Besides Leslie yelling “Get off my lawn!” to the universe, it was a major inconvenience to millions of people who rely on Google Calendar to run their appointments, and lives. This was not the first incident for the company. There was another big one earlier this month.
The outage was regrettably timed as the company early Tuesday tweeted out a plug for Calendar. By the way, If a Google service seems to be behaving oddly, you can check the status of them here.
Another site which watches these kinds of things is Down Detector. They may be able to tell you what’s up (or down) with your Comcast WiFi before the company actually does!
How often does this kind of thing happen? Not a lot, but it can and does.
Let’s go back to Leslie, above. She’s making the case that software systems are not to be trusted because good ol’ pen and parchment never crashes. While your pen could run out of ink, a fix should be fairly fast. And we’re not over-sensitive. We get what she’s saying. I often find my greatest inspiration on legal pad scribbles. But I certainly cannot schedule posts of this article with a pen and a prayer. I need technology to do that for me. Most of the time it works amazingly well, but stuff happens. Leslie would be the first to tell you she would have some difficulty scheduling meetings and notifying clients for the Midwest Region sales team comprised of 50 sellers.
Technology is like a water faucet: we only notice it when it stops working.
And then what? Target and Google have an army of engineers who scramble into action when the inevitable happens. Oftentimes issues are fixed in minutes or hours. You and I have no such army.
We are dependent on a customer care/service/support team, likely from an outside vendor. How fast we get our systems back up fully depends on the trust we have with those vendors. Are they prepared to jump in and attack a problem? Or are we going to get an email saying “We’re working on it!” and then play the waiting game? What if your email is part of the system which is down?
Do you and your vendor have each other’s critical support phone numbers? Will they hang on with you, carefully explaining what’s happening, how if affects you, and how they’re going to make it right? Our new friend Leslie seems highly organized, so someone like her probably is ready to get in touch with the right people and get on with the job of restoring your service.
Software is like our cars. Most of the time they work great. Every once in a while the <check engine> light comes on. We’d all be wise to not ignore that light and call a repair pro.
Ignoring that warning could put you and your business straight into the ditch.