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What I Learned Yesterday

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Yesterday was one of the most difficult days I’ve had professionally since I became President of ShoreTel’s Cloud Division.  We experienced a service interruption that impacted a subset of our customers for a significant portion of the day.  This is not the experience we strive to provide our clients and it was a disappointment to our team.

We have been investing heavily in upgrading our entire technical environment including network and hardware infrastructure; software systems; and physical facilities.  In light of yesterday’s events new hardware was installed for the impacted servers overnight.  This action is just one element of a much larger project that will provide our clients with an improved experience and peace of mind.

Zig Zigler famously said, “Never overlook the good in a bad situation.”  Today I am going to take his advice and share three good things that became apparent to me yesterday.

Our Employees Care


It’s in dark times that you really see the light of teamwork and dedication shining through.  Although basic service was restored to all customers during the day, it was necessary to use our overnight maintenance window to rebuild several key network components and return service to the New York facility. I couldn’t be prouder of our team members who worked through the night to get this done.  No one had to beg, or offer incentives.  Our core value of actively helping simply made it the obvious thing to do.  I’d also like to mention our support staff and account managers. They are trained to help customers and nothing is more frustrating for them than a situation where there isn’t much they can do.  They performed admirably and we are grateful.

 

Infrastructure Investments are Paying Off


We recently completed the project to activate a backup co-location datacenter facility in Chicago that could serve as a failover to quickly restore service to clients in the event of a major disaster or other emergency that impacted our primary datacenters.  Yesterday, this facility was called into use to restore service to impacted customers more quickly than would otherwise have been possible.  Although we have tested this procedure in the past, yesterday was the first time it has been utilized in a live scenario and it worked as planned.  Although no cloud service is perfect, we will continue to refine our processes to improve our recovery speed and efficiency, should the need ever arise again.

 

 

Transparency is Worth It


Alone in the industry, we post real-time network performance at trust.shoretelsky.com.  This site is public and is available for all to see.  Yesterday, it reflected the experience of our customers and clearly indicated the service issues.  We’ve been told by many that we are crazy for being this transparent.  We know very well that our competitors, who have all had issues of their own, but prefer to walk a less transparent path, use this against us and direct prospects to the site when there are problems.  That's fine with us.  Being open about the health of our systems is important because it shows our dedication to honest communication and it also reminds our entire team that there is nowhere to hide.

 

 

We are not perfect but we strive to be the best. We also like to learn from the best … leaders in the cloud space, such as DropboxNetflix, Amazon and Facebook, who have the courage to provide their clients with the information they need because they know that the secret to any great and lasting relationship is honesty during good times and bad.

With modern social communications, there is no way to cover up problems.  Yesterday some of our clients used Twitter to ask questions or to share their frustration.  We’re OK with that.  But we also think people should hear about issues directly from us and our Trust site makes that possible.  When our competitors direct people to our trust site, we simply hope they will reply with, “Where’s yours?”

So, there was a bit of silver in this cloud, but the bottom line is that we strive to always do better.  I’m grateful for the patience of our customers and committed to learning from the good and bad in any situation and using that insight to provide an outstanding experience.  If you have any questions, or would like to talk further, please reach out to your account manager or sales representative.


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