Go Daddy, the world’s largest domain name registrar on the web, was recently crippled by a digital crisis that shut down millions of websites that rely on Go Daddy’s domain name system (DNS) daily.

 

Websites, gone. Email, missing. Frustrations, high.

For several tense hours, visitors were unable to reach websites across the web that were registered with Go Daddy. Website owners scrambled to find out why there websites were missing from the web and many flocked to Go Daddy on Twitter in hopes of finding out exactly what was happening. To make matters worse, some website owners’ frustrations were compounded once they realized the Go Daddy blackout also included problems sending and receiving email.

Go Daddy’s CEO, Scott Wagner, addressed the Sept 10 service outage by offering this apology:

Go Daddy Customers and Community,

We owe you a big apology for the intermittent service outages we experienced on September 10th that may have impacted your website and your interaction with GoDaddy.com.

The service outage was due to a series of internal network events that corrupted router data tables. Once the issues were identified, we took corrective actions to restore services for our customers and GoDaddy.com. We have implemented measures to prevent this from occurring again.

At no time was any sensitive customer information, such as credit card data, passwords or names and addresses, compromised.

Throughout our history, we have provided 99.999% uptime in our DNS infrastructure. This is the level of performance our customers have come to expect from us and that we expect from ourselves. We pride ourselves on providing world-class service — through our products, our site experience and customer care.

We have let our customers down and we know it. I cannot express how sorry I am to those of you who were inconvenienced. We will learn from this.

I’d like to express my profound gratitude to all our customers. We are thankful for your straightforward feedback and the confidence you have shown in us.

In appreciation, we will reach out to affected customers in the coming days with a good faith gesture that acknowledges the disruption. We are grateful for your continued loyalty and support.

If you have any questions or require further assistance, please call us at 1-480-505-8877.

Sincerely,

Scott Wagner

Go Daddy CEO

Social Media

In a crisis, social media is the beast you want on your side. From the looks of it, Go Daddy understood this, well. Once GoDaddy was made aware of their outage, their social media team responded professionally and focused on what was in their control, empathizing, reassuring and thanking customers with each Tweet. Go Daddy’s social media team were on the same page, with the same voice and same message.

They presented themselves professionally and with a uniform voice and a strategic message that aimed to inform, calm, apologize, and reassure customers. Go Daddy’s Twitter stream showed they were on top of the issue by:

  • providing updates via Twitter over the entire outage
  • communicating the outage was their highest priority
  • expressing they were feverishly working on a remedy
  • personalizing each tweet where possible
  • not allowing themselves to be distracted by competitors chiming in on the state of Go Daddy’s crisis
  • thanking customers for their continued support and patience
  • informing customers they would continue  provide ongoing updates
  • informing customers that more information would be shared in 24 hours ( what caused the digital outage)

Go Daddy’s crisis resolution also included:

  • Transparency: Identified, clarified and shared the source of the outage was internal and from corrupted router data tables (not from an external data breach)
  • Resolution: Corrective action taken to remedy the source of the outage and websites are now visible online
  • Contingency: Plan(s) and safeguards in place to ensure that an outage on this scale never occurs again

Reputation

This was no small crisis for Go Daddy. How well Go Daddy’s management leads through the resolution of this crisis will have a long-term effect on Go Daddy’s reputation. When Go Daddy’s social media team began working their way through a mountain of distress tweets sent by their customers, they took their first public steps to reassure and calm customers as the digital outage was under close examination internally.

Closing the Gaps

The digital gap that now exists between Go Daddy and those blindsided by this outage could turn into a major problem for Go Daddy. Small businesses were left reeling and feeling rather small – something no business owner regardless of their size would sign up to experience. Some have already begun moving their website elsewhere motivated by a mixture of emotions, fear and compromised trust.

As stressful as this experience may have been there’s still an opportunity for Go Daddy to continue to move forward. Go Daddy has a huge opportunity to redeem themselves here… if they just continue to make the right steps. Go Daddy can turn this outage into an opportunity to build stronger relationship with their customers. To do this, Go Daddy has to consider what their customers went through during those hours without the service they trusted and relied on. Go Daddy leadership should think about ways to encourage customers to stay with Go Daddy and work to earn back the trust lost during the outage. It needs to be more than a goodwill gesture; it needs to be a meaningful offer that will make customers feel valued and appreciated.

For a small business owner, every second a website is down or an email remains in limbo is an opportunity missed. Hopefully, Go Daddy understands this and will continue to work to make sure Go Daddy’s customers remain visible and safe online.

Despite all of this, lingering questions exist. Doubt has found room to blossom online. Perhaps if Go Daddy shared more information – a post mortem – about how they believe router tables become corrupted, maybe this additional information would help those who seek more information to better understand what went wrong.  Maybe. The fact is there may always be some people who doubt what the public was told is true. Who knows what mixture of human error, infrastructure weakness or poor safeguards blended together to bring Go Daddy down. There is a lesson to be learned here and I think the greater lesson is… technologies, like humans, are not flawless.

What are your thoughts?

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