For businesses worldwide that rely on virtual phone services a cautionary tale has been spun over the last few days at Grasshopper. Companies and sales associates have come to rely on the portability and ease of use virtual PBX services provide as well as the reduced costs associated with minimal hardware purchases. That cost savings may come at a very steep price as Grasshopper customers are finding out today and yesterday.
For those not familiar with what these companies provide or what a virtual PBX is, picture your current corporate phone system being housed not in a utility closet in the back of your office building but by a 3rd party provider in another location. The Grasshopper.com outage has shown that in at least this case the supposed cutting edge technology employed by a firm who's sole purpose is to provide reliable phone service failed. Beginning on June 7th customers noticed slow service or dropped connection. By later in the day June 8th the problem appears to be more widespread and is now effecting apparently their entire user base. Twenty four hours into the crisis the Grasshopper support site offers no clue as to when things will be back to normal or any explanation as to why this all happened in the first place. You would think a company of this size would have tested backup operations. Those supposedly failed after the main system went down. As of 530pm ET the Grasshopper Support Site still does not provide any inclination as to when the service outage will end.
If you are a small to medium sized business that uses virtual phone services or any 3rd party service that saves on infrastructure costs let the major Grasshopper outage be a warning. Investigate what backup systems that company has in place. Do not get caught in a position in which you have no alternative and business is lost. For customers at Grasshopper today the embarassment of having calls go to dead phone lines or even worse the "temporarily disconnected" message which makes it seem like people didn't pay their bills will take months to shake off. The financial costs to effected firms is probably incalculable. Have a backup toll free number in place next time.
A couple of months ago we wrote about TSA friendly promotional bags. Look at all the negative PR that the TSA has gotten in the last few months. At no time have I read anywhere from the TSA on suggestions to expedite the process of getting through checkpoints. They've offered no tips or pointers and have done nothing to establish positive PR. It's kind of like what has gone on with Grasshopper today, no information and what information is provided is totally useless to those losing business.