Here at Solomon McCown & Company, we’re used to providing counsel in a crisis so our clients can better weather a storm. And Tuesday, we witnessed, first-hand, a textbook case of top-notch crisis management and communications. Our email server was down for several hours on a busy first-day-back from Labor Day Weekend. It turns out, our provider Intermedia experienced hosted Exchange and cloud services outage. Now, you’re going to have folks pretty upset and bent out of shape whenever their email is down or data just isn’t accessible. But it’s how Intermedia handled the outage that we found so impressive. First, they responded to customer worries and questions in real time, harnessing the power of social media. Intermedia’s phones might have been down, but Twitter was not. From their account, the company furiously tweeted when so many where in the digital dark. Responses to complaints included “We understand. I feel your frustration. We’re working on it” or “Once we know why, we’ll fix it and then send update”. Among those customers turning to Twitter for updates was our own office manager Carrie. “At least I knew there was a problem, I knew they were aware and that they didn’t just close the doors and walk away.” Carrie was also able to get answers on Twitter by following a conversation designated by #intermedia. It was a tough day for the world’s largest cloud services provider, but service was eventually restored by midafternoon. That could have been The End. But was what came next that made this case of crisis management one to emulate: CEO Phil Koen published a blog explaining the outage and corrective measures — and asking customers to hopefully accept his apology. “I want to offer a profound apology. I also want to explain what happened, what we’ve learned, and what we’re going to change,” he wrote. Koen also went on to ask for feedback, giving an email address and insisting it is monitored by Intermedia’s senior management team. And the firm assured customers via Twitter that anyone impacted by the outage would be credited. The reviews of the company’s handling of the crisis were mixed: people were angry and they wanted answers through the traditional channels. But Intermedia quickly found a way to reach its audience and Koen’s mea culpa by the end of the day was well received. Perhaps the site Talkin’ Cloud summed it up best, “the only proper thing to do in an event such as this is to eat humble pie…It took Intermedia a few hours on Sept. 3 to sort through the challenges but Koen's blog entry was a welcome note later in the day.” By Solomon McCown Vice President T.J. Winick