Intuit’s Unbelievable Response to Data Outage

In case you missed it Intuit just suffered through a very public and embarrassing data outage.

By most accounts the outage lasted at least 36 hours.

Repors say it took down some of Intuit’s corporate sites as well as reportedly some of their accounting offerings such as TurboTax Online, Quickbooks Online, Quicken and Quickbase.

Customers are understandably upset. And Intuit’s not the first publisher to have a prolonged data outage. Google, Twitter, Sage – and others have them.

When outages happen other publishers tend to keep quiet  about them and not criticize a competitor because they know their turn for an outage could arrive tomorrow.

What’s remarkable about Intuit’s response to the outage is two things. They didn’t use a PR flack to deliver a boilerplate apology (see Apple’s iPhone 4 order snafu apology for a good example of what that looks like)

This morning I noticed something about their apology that I’ve rarely seen a software publisher do.

Intuit’s apology letter read like most that I’ve seen.

What is unusual about this apology is that Intuit have left the commenting feature on.

Intuit CEO Brad Smith posted a fairly typical boilerplate statement explaining about the outage.

(The apparent cause was an electrical failure during a system upgrade.)

Granted there are tons of questions about why backup systems were not in place and how Intuit might compensate customers who couldn’t perform daily accounting functions.

By far the most unusual aspect of this apology is that they’ve left the comment open on their blog.

That’s right. Anyone can leave a comment to express their opinion.

While most comments are along the lines of “when is our refund coming” — it’s refreshing to see a company that’s using their CEO to openly communicating with their customer base instead of sticking an anonymous press release on their site apologizing for the downtime.

More software companies should sit up and take notice of this.

Even when the news is bad I think it improves the overall customer experience to know that there’s somewhere to share and give feedback.

Intuit

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Comments

  1. That’s great, but you know you can edit those things. I have seen my words chopped up before. Since I usually don’t keep copies of the comments I make, and track them purposefully, I don’t pick up the changes unless its serious.

    If most people are asking for refunds, then I doubt Intuit is making a change – but you never know.

  2. Yes the comments could be edited but the gesture is significant. Many other orginizations claim to be customer focused but would never expose themselves in this way. I would have more trust in an orginization that is willing to admit their mistakes in this fashion.

  3. All of the above may be true — comments can be edited, deleted, modified – however it’s still commendable that the comments were initially left on.

  4. As an Intuit employee, I can assure you that it is against our social media policy to edit, delete or modify the comments (except for indecency.) We work hard to gather valuable customer feedback on our products and services via many methods – and in a case like this it is important to allow and enable that feedback in public forums – including our blogs, our Intuit Community and our Facebook wall – even if the feedback is difficult to hear.