When the Internet Goes Down, SMS Messaging Can Save the Day

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A few weeks ago, Amazon’s S3 cloud server on the east coast of the US went down. According to an article on mobilemarketer.com, 54 of the top 100 online retailers went with it. Some of the hardest hit are recognisable American retailers like Disney, Target and Nike. Also, Docker’s Registry Hub, Twitch.tv, Autodesk’s cloud, Twilio, Mailchimp, Adobe’s Cloud were affected.  Even DownDetector.com, a website that keeps track of whether websites and online services are up or down, went down.

What would you do if your online presence went down, or suffered a 1165% slow down like Disney did? Do you have a plan? There are many ways you can deal with the technical issues, but a likely bigger problem is your customers. How will you communicate with them and restore their trust? Here’s a hint: use SMS messaging.

Have a Plan

In the Mobile Marketer article, Justin Bougher, a vice president at SiteSpect said, “The key is to be prepared and have a response that has a minimal negative impact on customer experience or can convert the negative impact to a positive one.”

He goes on to say that those responses could be via text message, email, or even direct phone calls in certain situations. Which one is appropriate can depend on several things, including the “life time value of the customer”.

The time sensitivity of the downtime matters too. If your site goes down during a critical period (like Cyber Monday), or a whole portion of the Internet goes down (as has happened recently), you might want to assume that people’s access to email or social media could be hampered too.

That means any communication you try to have in those channels may go unheard. Even if social media channels do work for some, there’s no guarantee the message will be seen by your customers. People’s feeds fill up so quickly, and getting noticed is hard.

So, when you need to be sure your customers know what is going on, and what you’re doing about it, send them SMS messages.

SMS Messages Will Work

The SMS protocol doesn’t rely on the Internet. It was designed to work on cellular networks. That means even if websites or servers are down, or if hackers are trying to break the Internet, your message can still get through. Cellular networks can have outages too, but historically it’s much less likely. And when it happens, it’s usually due to a natural disaster damaging towers or from people overloading the system in a wide-spread emergency.  And even then, SMS messages can often make it through when voice calls can’t.

When an online disaster affects you, then, you have the choice to use SMS messaging or a combination of different channels. Which one you choose will depend on the circumstances. But SMS is a reliable method you know will work, almost always no matter what is going on elsewhere. The sooner you let the customers or clients that rely on you know what is going on, the better it will be for you, and for them.

Of course, if you’re sending SMS messages, you’ll need to have a reliable service provider. In the context of online disasters, this means a service provider whose services will still be working when other parts of the Internet may not be. This is because most providers use the Internet for some portion of their SMS delivery.

At Fastsms, we have both a main data centre and a disaster recovery location. This means if our servers go down for any reason, our second location will pick up where they left off with little delay (you can contact us if you want to know the details and our service level agreements).

In addition to being prepared, our primary data centre is just one hop away from the main Internet exchanges and SMS gateways. This means that our use of the Internet to send your SMS messages is just a tiny little piece of the whole journey. So, messages sent from our service get into the cellular networks super-fast and delivered to your customers and clients fast too.

Nothing is Perfect

In this day and age, it’s hard to know what will happen with technology. It turned out that Amazon’s issue stemmed from a staffer who mistyped a command into their system. That small mistake cost businesses millions of dollars based on the approximately five hours of downtime experienced. Amazon’s reputation as a cloud provider is certainly damaged, but they are such a large company that they will weather it well.

For everyone else though, it pays to have a plan to notify customers, employees, service providers, or clients when the worst happens. SMS messaging can be one of those options you turn to when you absolutely need the message delivered.

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