Received an email a couple of days ago that I thought was very quote-worthy. This is from an online service called Boomerang that went down briefly after a major disruption to Amazon's cloud-computing platform (which this service uses). Here's what the letter reads:
Notice of Boomerang Service Disruption (Apr 22) and our apologiesAs some of you noticed, Boomerang service was unavailable this morning. We were impacted by a widespread outage of our hosting provider, Amazon Web Services (AWS). To minimize the disruption, we have been able to mostly restore the service from our backup.
While the service was down, we weren't able to deliver the messages you scheduled to go out during that time period. If you have messages scheduled to go out today (in particular this morning), please check in the Boomerang-Outbox in Gmail and send them manually.
We were also unable to get to the messages that were scheduled within the last 9 days since AWS has not recovered so far. When Amazon AWS services resume normally, we hope to be able to recover the missing messages and deliver them as you scheduled. We apologize for the problems and inconveniences and we hope to be able to resume delivering all scheduled messages soon.
How to make sure all your messages are sent as scheduled
Please click on Boomerang-Outbox label in Gmail and check to see if there any messages that needed to go out. You will need to send them manually (compose a new message, copy-and-paste the content from the message you scheduled, and send it through Gmail) if you don't see them under Messages to Send Later section of Manage Boomerang page at [URL] .
How to make sure all your messages are returned
Please click on Boomerang label in Gmail and check to see if there any messages that should be back in your inbox.
How are we going to make Boomerang more reliable?
Like many startups, we entrusted AWS with virtually our entire infrastructure, including both our production servers and most of our backup systems. We hoped that their systems were independent enough to see us through if something went wrong with one piece of the service, but today's problems reminded us that data centers at that scale are very hard to make independent.
We should have had a better plan in place, and we'll be making one. We'll be working very hard to improve our redundancy in the upcoming few weeks, both because we want you to be able to rely on us to get your messages to the right place when they need to get there, and because mornings like this are making me bald and giving me wrinkles.
Again, we are very sorry for this disruption in our service.
Very, very nice. Why do I like this letter so much?
- Clearly communicates the problem
- Takes ownership, no excuses and provides an apology. This letter is the written equivalent of looking someone in the eye.
- Offers an immediate solution
- Tells you what they plan to do on a longer-term basis to prevent problems
- Responsibility at the highest level with the CEO, not a head of PR or, worse, a PR agency signing off
Yes, I have to finish that travelogue series I began a couple of weeks ago but life keeps interrupting!