Yahoo! - A lesson in poor communication

Yahoo mail hasn’t been working for me for over 12 hours ... apparently other people are affected ... but you would never know that from Yahoo’s web site and barely from their tweets.
Yahoo! was one of the original success stories of Internet search and services. I have used their push e-mail service since I first acquired an iPhone as it was one of the few services that provided push functionality at the time. Yesterday, I noticed that I could no longer access my e-mails on Yahoo! Today I went looking for issues at my end and Google revealed a twitter feed @yahoomail and @yahoocare - unfortunately for most of my outage time there was no acknowledgement of the problems ... going to Yahoo’s web site revealed no immediate admission of a problem and I could not easily find a status page.

So like apparently many others I am sitting waiting for a resolution to a problem with no official statement that there is one ...

Apple had issues like this in the past but introduced a
systems status page. This page has several beneficial affects for Apple:
  • it lets customers know that Apple knows there is a problem - reducing support calls
  • It drives resolution performance because their issues are there for the world to see
  • It shows that the company is proud enough of its service to stand on its record

As a customer Apple is actually making me feel more confident because they are prepared to share their failures in public.

WARNING the following did NOT help! An unfortunate side effect of Yahoo’s communication strategy is that one of the tweets suggested the issue might be related to authentication (at least partially) so I followed their advice:
  • deleted the account on one of my devices (this was supremely non-helpful in the current situation as I can’t recreate the account on the device at least until they fix the actual problem); and,
  • reset my password - another piece of advice (once again not a good idea as it didn’t fix the problem and it is unclear if the passwords are correctly distributed in the system under the current fault)
This is a clear example of why companies need to put forward a clear acknowledgement of faults and resolution procedures for the current issue - as poor general advice or solving the last problem can create more issues for already harmed users.

My advice for companies: share the bad news quickly, hiding it just upsets the customers more.