As a developer, my first impulse when the service I’m developing is malfunctioning is to jump right on it and try to fix it. But while I do that, I can’t help thinking about who is affected by it and how bad and if they will notice it. Then there’s the first five to ten minutes of the investigation, when I realise how far I am from finding a solution, yet, I keep thinking “Almost there, almost there!”. Five minutes become twenty and twenty become an hour. In the meantime, users start reaching out, asking what’s going on.
That moment right there has a very sour taste. You don’t have a solution and you didn’t notify your users about the issue. You feel the pressure and you start thinking on how to recover your face towards the user.
You could go all out and ignore the users calling until you fix the problem. Show up after that with an apology washed in the good news of saving the day. Eventually.
But you lost their confidence and trust. Especially if this situation repeats itself often.
As irrational it may sound, users don’t usually flip desks and be very angry when you tell them your service has a problem early on. They become irritated when they have to come and ask you every hour what’s the status. I’m pretty sure they don’t enjoy it. They only reason they do it is because they rely on your service and you don’t keep them informed.
The thing is, no service, app or platform is perfect. All of them have bugs and from time to time they don’t behave as they should. So how come users are happy to pay money for software that they know will break at some point?
Well, it’s a matter of trust. When they pay for an app or service, they trust that its creators will have their back and fix it fast with minimum of fuss if something happens. The interesting part is that even if there is a more serious issue with the service, there is a way to not damage that trust much. And that is by letting your users know as soon as possible.
This way, they know you are on top of it and you are making everything possible to fix it. Plus, you get to focus on fixing the issue, rather than dealing with angry users on the side.