Thursday, 23 August 2007

Has the age of spin really ended?

I came across VoIP Watch recently and this post, Grand Central Numbers Post about Grand Central's post Number Changes caught my attention. He's made a number of posts about the 'Great Skype Out' as he described it.

Andy waxes lyrical about the founders of Grand Central and their open and honest approach to the issues they were facing with certain numbers they were providing to customers. He compares this unfavourably to the Skype's recent announcements concerning the sign-in issue they experienced. As he makes quite clear in his post, the principals of Grand Central are friends and clients, but was their post really that open an honest? Is it part of a new wave in customer communication?

GrandCentral basically seem to have passed the blame quite conveniently onto a supplier. In my book that's not necessarily open and honest about internal issues but more passing the buck. How do we know this wasn't spin, stretching the truth, or otherwise dressing up the situation?

Skype on the other hand, did it would seem, have an internal issue. The like of which, as a developer and service provider myself, do indeed materialise from time to time. Sometimes they're irritating, othertimes they can be terminal. That's the nature of complex systems.

I suspect that Skype's honesty issue was more around protecting their IP. I can imagine the technology that running a telephony service supporting millions of users on top of a network infrastructure you don't control requires some pretty intelligent programming. Something worth fiercely protecting.

Grand Central are also guilty of slapping a BETA tag on their service. This seems to be not only very fashionable of late but has the added benefit of allowing companies to absolve all responsibility for reliability. Should Grand Central come out of BETA, I wonder if the tone and delivery would be the same.

When it comes down to it, customers just want systems and services that work. Whether you adopt an honest John approach or spin the issues to the hilt, the customer will only remember whether the service was there when they wanted to use it.

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