Failure and Frustration on the Consumer Web

Updated: January 07, 2011

Instances of consumer web failures are common. To name just a few examples out of many: - In late 2010, this personal money management service inadvertently deleted a user's entire account, including all his data. The anonymous user explained what happened:

About 30 days ago, I had problems logging in. I tried to reset my account but it didn't work so I contacted "support" - for which they just have a form. After several attempts - I am told by support that they cannot find any accounts for me - and the rep told me she has limited time so she has "communicated my problem to 'engineering'". Wow! My entire financial information is available online and I have been a customer for 2 years and they can't locate my account nor do they have a process to get back to me. Its taken me 30 days to get 2 emails back. I am panicked as expected since someone out there could have hijacked my account and obtained all the information. And MINT doesn't have time to get back to me. I am livid.

Skype - This past Christmas, the ubiquitous calling service, used by many millions, went down for about 24 hours. The company's blog explains the problem in technical babblespeak terms that are probably meaningless to most users:

Skype isn't a network like a conventional phone or IM network - instead, it relies on millions of individual connections between computers and phones to keep things up and running. Some of these computers are what we call ‘supernodes' - they act a bit like phone directories for Skype. If you want to talk to someone, and your Skype app can't find them immediately (for example, because they're connecting from a different location or from a different device) your computer or phone will first try to find a supernode to figure out how to reach them.

Hotmail - Just before New Year's, thousands of email users discovered messages missing from their mailboxes. The Hotmail blog explains:

Beginning on December 30th we had an issue with Windows Live Hotmail that impacted 17,355 accounts. Customers impacted temporarily lost the contents of their mailbox through the course of mailbox load balancing between servers. We identified the root cause and restored mail to the impacted accounts as of yesterday evening, January 2nd. As with all incidents like this, we will fully investigate the cause and will take steps to prevent this from happening again. We're very sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused to you, our customers and partners.

Netflix - In 2008, the video service suffered "massive shipping delays" due to internal hardware failure. After this failure, I wrote the following on my ZDNet blog: "Although diagnosing hardware problems can be tough, Netflix gets the dunce award for lack of transparency in the face of disaster."

Featured Research
  • Executive Brief: Mitigate Avaya risk and future-proof your customer experience

    When Avaya filed for bankruptcy, it ended months of speculation. However, the company’s ongoing financial instability has left many businesses in a precarious position. If you’re concerned about your future with Avaya, don’t wait around to see what long-term options are available to modernize your customer engagement center. more

  • Harnessing the Power of Speech Analytics

    The conversations between your customers and agents contain invaluable insights—if you have the right tools to easily interpret and act on this dialogue. Unfortunately, most organizations waste time manually mining only a subset of customer interaction data, or worse yet, do nothing with it at all. Speech analytics is an incredibly powerful tool for contact center leaders. It easily delivers real-time visibility into the full customer journey and agent responses, which are essential for driving higher customer satisfaction and business success. more

  • Gartner Report: Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure, Worldw...

    The 2017 Magic Quadrant provides Gartner’s annual analysis of the contact center infrastructure vendors. The report examines the innovations driving the market and compares vendors based on completeness of vision and ability to execute. more

  • Frost & Sullivan: Update Your Contact Center Today or Risk Losing Business Tomor...

    Customer expectations have changed. Self-service options on the channels of their choice are a given. And when self-service is not enough, they want live agents who can step up and make it a seamless transition. Take a new approach to customer engagement today—or your customers won’t be back tomorrow. more

  • Forrester Report: Artificial Intelligence with the Human Touch

    Artificial intelligence (AI) can’t replicate the human touch, but it can ease your agents’ burden by handling many simple, repetitive requests. A new Forrester Consulting paper offers a look at the strengths and weaknesses of both AI and humans independently, yet how blending them together can give your customers the seamless end-to-end experience they expect. more