Ask SND: How much should I tell my customers?

He invented the question mark...

Welcome to the first segment of "Ask Startup Next Door".

Today's question: "We're doing a datacenter move in order to handle more capacity. How much of this should I tell the customers, and to what degree?

Answer: Communication with the customer on important moves that may impact their service is always a good idea. You don't want to get angry phone calls or email. Now you don't want to say that you've been limping along on one server that has been overtaxed for 4 months, because then you just look negligent and irresponsible, even though it's true (you lazy punk). But telling them there may be a little downtime and that it's for the best will let the customers know you're responsible.

This would make a good tweet on Twitter, a Facebook update, and blog post (do all three, many people may only be using one of these media). Putting these notices on services outside the realm of your site is wise, because if your site is down for maintenance and there is no way for the customer to know what is going on, they may panic. But if they can see a message on Facebook or Twitter while your site is down, then they can relax. This is also a great place to tell them when it will be back up: "Taking longer than expected. Another 30 minutes and service should be restored."

Now as to how much detail... For a server move, you could put the basics:

we are improving our service to you by moving to a new datacenter that will allow us to provide a faster website and handle many more customers

is fine and enough. But if you want to "geek out" a bit, you can add this afterwards:

Nerd note:

Our new datacenter is at Rackspace. We'll be rocking our own rack of 10 1U servers, each with 40GB RAM, 4 quad-core Xeons, with a NAS capable of 300TB of data, blah blah blah...

Hope you enjoyed this "Ask SND". If you have questions about your own Startup Next Door that you'd like to ask, contact me and you may be next.

Photo courtesy takomabibelot CC BY 2.0

Next post: how to call your customers from home

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