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Amazon S3 Servers Crash: How B2B Services must Assist their Clients in the Crisis Hour?

By Tushar Gupta 3rd March 2017

Intelligence lies in finding opportunity in every calamity, and when one of the most reliable web services on the internet falters, it warrants additional efforts for any B2B Service. Earlier this week, when the Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) experienced ‘increased error rates’ or simply a disruption in their service, it took down major websites along with those of small businesses and enterprises. Given how Amazon Web Services (AWS) are integral to web and app development across the globe, starting from the US where AWS happens to be the largest web service provider, those were a few chaotic hours for enterprises.

As a B2B Service, there is nothing much you can do about it. Amazon already had its experts and professionals fixing the error, simultaneous press releases followed to keep users and enterprises updated about the S3 crash. Alongside, the timezone difference made it difficult for many clients and enterprises to reach out to their respective B2B service or its representative, since not all of them were able to understand what had gone wrong or when it was going to be fixed. With sites like Quora, Yahoo,  and Trello down, there were numerous enterprises worried about the consistency of their data, transactions, and the restoration of services.

So, how to offer assistance to your clients when there is an unprecedented event of this scale occurs?

  1. Communication: Yes, Amazon is going to have its press releases and other PR Agencies in place, but you shouldn’t wait for them to do your work. Reach out to your client with an email which describes the issue, what led to it, and what is being done to fix it. It doesn’t have to be a long email, but should help calm their nerves.
  2. Engagement: There is a high probability of your clients trying to get in touch, and you might not be able to cater their requirements due to the time zone difference. An email is essential in such scenarios, but ideally, one would recommend going the extra mile and interacting with them over a verbal chat.
  3. Research: Not always would you be able to understand the cause of a server crash or any other error, and this is where it helps to go online. Start with Twitter and Facebook where news comes first, and source of information from credible and verified channels about the crash and what could have led to it.
  4. Raise the Stakes: It is important to understand that the call isn’t supposed to be a formality or some obligation, but a moment for you to show your client that you care. Not all of them will care for your assistance, but the ones which do would be thankful and might just come back for your services for you chose to be alongside them in this chaos.

Sales representatives, PR professionals, and other marketing agencies should keep themselves updated about such events. Often, you can cite a reference from the past while talking about an ongoing crash to further assist your clients. Reaching out to your clients is imperative when the error has been fixed, in order to brief them about the current status of operations and functionalities.

A couple of days later, when the dust has settled, you could consider having an extensive email prepared about the technicalities of the crash, error, or bug that caused the disruption.

Turns out, many B2B services used the 5-hour AWS S3 blackout to improve their PR efficiency and outlook, and garnered quite a few brownie points for their customer services.

The lesson is to disrupt your own customer service the next time a disruption this massive occurs.

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