Amazon Web Services – Averting Disaster

It’s not too often that a massive online company goes the extra mile for a small customer. It is not often that I write about such a case because again, it’s a pretty infrequent situation in my experience. This all changed over the last two weeks for me as I dealt with Amazon Web Services over an issue with our system hosted in their cloud.

Some background:

As a startup social media software company, we needed a data center/hosting solution that was highly scalable for growth, yet was not cost prohibitive. Although often extremely complicated, their powerful solution is utilized by many top social media software companies, making it something we decided to deploy ourselves. Being a SAAS (software as a service) product, Amazon’s infrastructure, hosting and overall solution made a lot of sense for Bundle Post.

As I alluded in the background, AWS capabilities are immense. Along with that, you need to be a bit of a rocket scientist or have said team to setup and manage their highly complex solution. There are many services and functions that must be turned on, set up, added and/or changed. To be clear here, rocket scientist I am not! Needless to say we had some communication issues internally related to some of the AWS systems and services that were turned on by team members and never used. This can be no big deal in many circumstances. In ours it meant a 1000%+ increase in our monthly costs with Amazon, unbeknownst to me. If you want to have your heart stop as a startup CEO, getting your budget wacked by over 1000% is a good way to do it.

Now typically a company of Amazon’s size would respond by saying too bad, you should know better. They didn’t. In fact before I had realized what happened after someone on their team noticed the massive change and reached out via telephone to check in. Although I was unable to speak when they called, it got me checking, so I discovered the issue, resulting in a service contact from me asking for help.

Without getting into all the details, the customer service, fanpage and Twitter teams were incredible. They not only communicated and met the issues head on, they proactively kept me informed during the entire process, even before I felt the need to check in and find out the status of our issue.

Customer Service lessons to learn from the Amazon WS team:

1) Noticing problems before your customer does and reaching out to avoid bigger ones is huge!

2) Responding quickly to customer issues minimizes the overall issue.

3) Showing concern and sympathy for your customers situation puts them at ease.

4) Update your customer throughout the process even before they need to check back in.

5) Look for opportunities to change a bad situation into a customer loyalty change and PR boon!

Very impressed guys, VERY impressed!

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

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