$#!τ – there’s a problem with your service. You jump into incident-management mode. Your users, who are already tweeting and sending support tickets, need to know what’s up. Your team needs to come together to diagnose and fix the issue.
And all this needs to happen fast.
While always a pain in the SaaS, having the right tools to manage incidents makes all the difference. Two companies, AWeber and vCreative, while vastly different in what they do—AWeber helps over 100K small businesses with email marketing and vCreative provides a cloud-based workflow specifically geared toward radio promotions and commercial production for radio and TV – both find solace in Statuspage when an incident occurs.
Statuspage, used by thousands of software providers, allows companies to easily build hosted status pages outside of their infrastructure to communicate with users around downtime. When Statuspage introduced their new Hipchat add-on, AWeber and vCreative pounced on the opportunity to up their ChatOps game. Using Hipchat and Statuspage, these two companies resolve issues at least four times faster. Yep, you read that right. Read on to learn just how they did this.
Stock the right tools in your arsenal
First things first. Get your team using the right tools, says Joshua Bennett, Executive Director of Operations at vCreative. For a team that is fully distributed across the globe, Bennett relies on group chat to keep his team connected.
“I fell in love with Hipchat,” said Bennett, “and everyone got hooked.”
Teams at AWeber love the way Hipchat centralizes information. “No central person is the keeper of everything,” said Tom Kulzer, CEO at AWeber. “With iOS and Android apps, even teammates on a plane or at a trade show can jump in the conversation and help service clients at the drop of a dime.”
Statuspage has been equally integral to both companies. While vCreative has stellar service, boasting 99.9% uptime, they still need a strong process in place for that dreaded .01%.
Historically, vCreative relied on Facebook and Twitter to communicate problems to their users, but that only guaranteed communication to a portion of their users. Now using Statuspage, anyone on the service sees their message, not just those who happen to be on social media at the time.
Much like vCreative, AWeber needed a way to communicate with customers immediately in the event of a service interruption. Kulzer quickly realized that writing a blog post to announce service interruptions wasted valuable minutes they could be putting toward incident resolution. Now, they simply update Statuspage with important updates.
Integrate those tools into your team workflow
With Hipchat and Statuspage in their tool belts, AWeber and vCreative had the groundwork laid for ChatOps. But what really got them in the game was integrating their most precious tools into their chat rooms.
AWeber uses both Statuspage and Pingdom integrations if a crisis begins. If something goes wrong, their Pingdom integration pings a Hipchat room they call “Code Red” and sets a Statuspage flag. No other chit-chat is allowed in Code Red – it’s strictly reserved for times when ? hits the fan. With per-room notification settings, they are able to set the room to “loud” so no alert is missed.
They even have their own bot installed that they playfully call “Yo Dawg”. At the first alert of an incident, anyone can type “Yo Dawg, who’s on call?”, and the bot will tell them who the incident commander is. With a clear owner and a real-time log of what is happening when, they are always set up for resolution success.
vCreative uses their team- and product-specific rooms to handle crises. “Hipchat is godsend for us in these moments,” said Kulzer. “We don’t have to jump around as much. Everyone can just look in one room and be immediately up to date.”
Have a single source of truth
But service issues affect more than just the engineering teams. Support teams, too, must spring into action. Using Hipchat’s new side panel, vCreative’s support team is able to see the latest Statuspage updates at a glance.
This allows support to remain calm as phones ring off the hook and they inform inquiring customers about the current status of the incident. Now there is no need to track down engineers for answers – the source of truth is right there in the chat room.
With this transparency, vCreative support teams now respond and communicate to customers faster.
Communicate to users while you manage the incident
Using these tools and integrations, AWeber and vCreative are able to focus on what’s most important: their customers.
Before AWeber started using the Statuspage integration, it could take up to 20 minutes from initial alert to initial Statuspage update. Now they are down to around five minutes, providing their customers with updates 4x faster.
When it comes to incident management, faster communication equals happier customers.
And for vCreative, happy customers is key. “We get really high marks and we don’t shy from tooting our own horn about great customer service,” said Bennett. “Our customer service is only as good as the services we use to help our clients. Hipchat and Statuspage are two of the services we rely on most.”
ChatOps is for any and every team – from SaaS developers to Human Resources. Taking the steps to find the right tools and integrate them into your workflow allows your team to function at its very best.
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