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High Tech's Low Standards Of Customer Service

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You guessed it! Today's headline is a lead-in to another Gmail outage.

Memo to Google: Just because you are giving it away for free, doesn't excuse you from repeat outages. People depend on their e-mail. It's a big deal when it is down.

This is the fourth significant outage this year. It happened twice last spring, earlier this month and today.

Whether its free, cheap or costs an arm and a leg; any product or service your business offers - especially to businesses - needs to be all but bullet proof.

The temerity of the technology industry never ceases to amaze me. What other business sector considers the occasional outage, bug or glitch just part of doing business? Just fix it, apologize and move on to the next thing. Customers are supposed to just accept that?

What if Amtrak or car makers worked this way? Can you imagine the FAA being offline all morning grounding millions of travelers at a time and just saying "oops, it's all fixed now"? What if four times a year a major city hospital came to a standstill for a few hours? How about all the traffic lights in your city going dark all morning on a busy Thursday?

Be glad Google doesn't make dialysis machines. Be glad Microsoft doesn't really make windows (they'd all leak or just spontaneously crack from time to time). Be glad software makers don't make smoke alarms for your home requiring you to update the glitches perhaps as often as every month (I have a hard enough time remembering to change the battery twice a year). Be glad cell phone carriers don't carry the mail to your house. The Post Office would be charging you over a hundred dollars a month and if they "dropped" 10 percent of your letters on the way to your house a few times a month; well, they'd post a nice letter of apology on their web site telling you how much they care about your business. Pro-rating your bill to reflect the lost hours of service? Uh, no we don't do that.

There is only one industry I can think of that is just as shameless: toy and furniture makers that use the words "some assembly required".

Last updated: Sep 24, 2009




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