Skype’s Outage: A Lesson in How to Handle a Crisis in the Age of Social Media
Skype, the immensely popular VoIP service, experienced the first major outage in its history yesterday and even though this will surely hurt the company in the very short run, its excellent crisis management will reduce the outage’s impact to close to zero in the long run.
How Skype Got it Right
Almost immediately after the cascading failure on the Skype network took place, Skype posted an update to Twitter.
With this, customers got the reassurance that it wasn’t just their computers that were having issues and that Skype was aware of the problem. The team then continued to post updates to Twitter in the following hours. While these tweets kept users informed, they also didn’t promise anything the company couldn’t deliver. Things would have looked really bad for Skype if it announced that the network was recovering, yet none of its users were actually able to sign in yet.
Besides using Twitter, Skype also used its Facebook page to update users there. Facebook’s users were more than willing to interact with the brand there and some of the updates now have close to 2,000 comments.
In addition to all of this, Skype also updated its own blog regularly and posted more in-depth information there. Sadly, though, Skype did not put a big link to its blog on its homepage, so users who went to Skype.com first to get updates probably didn’t find the information they were looking for (Skype’s various blogs aren’t exactly easy to find from the homepage). Skype also doesn’t highlight comments on its blogs, which would have given users another point of contact with the company and the ability to interact with the company.
Finally, Skype’s CEO Tony Bates also recorded a short video, apologizing for the outage and explaining what happened and what the company plans to do to prevent similar issues in the future. For the most part, this video is effective, though it probably would’ve helped Skype’s cause if Bates actually noted that he is the company’s CEO at some point. In this video – and the accompanying blog post – Bates also promises credit vouchers for those paying users who were affected by the outage.
Overall, I was surprised by how effectively Skype managed its first major crisis. Over on the Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog, Jennifer Valentino-DeVries wonders how much this outage will hurt Skype. As much as people noticed this outage, I don’t think it will affect the company much. Skype’s already such an ingrained part of the Internet and people’s live that switching to an alternative isn’t an option for most people. It’s also worth noting that Skype Connect, its business-class service, wasn’t affected by this outage.