Suggestions for Marissa Mayer

Yammer is the internal social media platform we use in IT at Ministry Health Care. Recently there was a Yammer thread discussing the effectiveness of the communication surrounding the recent Yahoo email outage. Outage communication has been a focus for us and we like looking at what others are doing.

There were certainly a number of things that Yahoo did well. We thought that a communication from the CEO of the company set the right tone and it was written with a lot of authenticity. Sending an email from generic email accounts like the “IT help desk” would not have created the same level of goodwill.

But, I have two suggestions for Marissa Mayer:

  1. Don’t refer to your customers as users. Customers are valued. They are the reason you exist. Everyone has a mental model of good customer support. This Yammer post summarizes it better than I could: “Call me a customer, a client, an associate, a staff member, even just ‘you’ but ‘user’ sounds technical and impersonal.” Even if those receiving your service aren’t the ones paying I believe it is important to constantly remind associates they are the reason we are here and their satisfaction supersedes our own.
  2. A thank-you is better than an apology. There were a lot of apologies in the Yahoo communications. I believe it is a better approach to thank customers for their loyalty and patience while recognizing the inconvenience and letting customers know that you are working day and night until everything is fixed. When you thank someone you are recognizing them. When you apologize you are denigrating your performance. Save apologies for intentional acts, not mistakes.

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