I’m one of those people who like to let companies know when they find a bug. Having dealt with many bugs over the years, if it were me, I’d want to know.
Yesterday we had a problem with a free online product. Nothing too serious, something that I managed to fix myself after a little rooting around, but not before raising a support ticket with the provider.
The auto-response email received highlighted just how parochial some startups can be. It stated:
PLEASE NOTE: The [company name redacted] offices will be closed on Thursday and Friday November 22 & 23 to observe the Thanksgiving Holiday.
Now, I come from the world of Telecoms, where the multitude of international festive occasions are warmly embraced as an opportunity to sweat the network and coin it in as folks call home to wish their far flung loved ones a happy holiday. We never close. Not for anything.
I’m not saying that hardworking engineers don’t deserve a little time off every now and then – they do. The thing is, once you’ve launched a useful (free or low cost) online product you should be delighted to find that customers all over the world want to use it.
After all, with no revenue to speak of it’s a numbers game – and nothing’s as sexy as global growth, right?
What’s more, if you’ve trousered the best part of a million in seed funding so that you and a few of your best buds can turn a dormroom dream into an international enterprise, it might be a good idea to sort out some sensible coverage for those support calls.
Nobody expects a lightning fast response, but when the entirety of a customer’s uploaded content appears to disappear in your not-so-smooth migration to a ‘new and better system’ don’t tell them you’re on holiday for the next four days.
Remember that many of your customers are not on holiday. They are thousands of miles away, in other countries, enjoying different cultures.
Something to think about as you dream of being bigger than Facebook.