Carbonite on customer service


When I first started posting my problem with Mozy backup a while back, Len Pallazola, Customer Service Systems manager at Carbonite, contacted me and offered assistance with any questions I may have, and in also getting started with Carbonite if I was interested. I’ve had a few thoughtful emails with him since.

Over the weekend, while thinking about the issues I’m still facing with Mozy, I asked Len if it was OK to publish his response on several questions I had about the Carbonite service. With his permission, here are my questions to him and his answers.

My questions:

Now to understand how Carbonite compares with Mozy at least in robustness, has Carbonite suffered any outages in the past year? Also, how did your team respond to the problem and notify customers when it happened (if it did)?

Finally, beyond the current problem I’m seeing, why do you think Carbonite is better than the competition?

His answers:

Thank you for your reply, and for your question about how we handle outages, if they should happen. Earlier this year, while performing a scheduled infrastructure upgrade in our data center, a mishap occurred that changed a local setting for some of our customers and prevented them from connecting to our servers. We immediately sent an e-mail to all of the customers that we knew were affected. A short time later, we determined that the outage affected more customers than we originally thought, so we sent another e-mail to the folks we missed in the first batch. These e-mails included steps to correct the configuration error so that the users could reconnect. We also placed a service alert on our website that directed affected users to a “one-click” fix page. As part of our phone system’s greeting, we set a recorded message on how to resolve the issue so that folks who called regarding this specific issue immediately got the information they needed. Affected customers were also automatically alerted by a popup that informed them they were not properly connecting to our servers and that they should contact customer support.

We kept a close watch on the list of affected customers and sent additional e-mails to those who still had not reconnected after a set period of time. We also used a phone messaging service to send an instructional phone call to all of the affected customers for whom we had telephone contact information. A few days later, we repeated the process (both e-mail and phone messages) to the remaining customers that had yet to reconnect. Some customers did not have up-to-date phone contact information, and in some cases our mass e-mailings likely were intercepted by false positives on anti-spam software. Likewise, some folks didn’t contact our support department right away or go to our website to notice the service alert, so it took a few weeks before all of the affected customers were back up and running. But we certainly kept trying until we had everyone reconnected.

Regarding Carbonite compared to Mozy, I’m not the right guy to give a feature-by-feature comparison. I’m not an expert at their product in any way. I do know that our feature set is nearly identical, we’re a much easier program to set up and use, and that if the blogging community is any indicator, our restore process is easier and far more reliable as well. Mozy is ahead of us in that they have a Mac product, although that hasn’t gotten the best feedback on the web either. Our Mac product is due for release this summer after a very lengthy and careful development process – both in efforts to ensure a stable and reliable release as well as to provide a release that fit Mac conventions and styles. (The Mac community deserves a native Mac program rather than a program that looks like a Windows product that happens to run on a Mac.)

Carbonite’s pricing is comparable to MozyHome. MozyPro is their business offering and costs much more; MozyFree is their 2GB free offering. I think it’s fair to mention that MozyHome does not offer telephone support. We offer phone support seven days a week (9-5 EST Weekdays, Noon to 4pm Weekends), as well as e-mail support. (E-mail support is currently available in English, French, and Spanish, and we’re proud to have German, Italian, and Portuguese speaking support representatives currently in training.) In addition to our obvious support center options, we also proactively seek ways to reach customers in need when possible, such as keeping an eye out for folks asking for help on blogs and other web communities. (That’s how I found you, actually.)

When it comes right down to it, everything about Carbonite is approached in a “Customer First” manner – from our program’s design and interface, to our website, to our large (and growing) customer support team. We know that nobody wants to have to think about their backup system until they need it, so we make things as simple and as transparent as possible, and likewise make the restore as simple as possible when needed.

I like how Carbonite handles service outages and I think all companies that have a customer base should have the same focus. Not being a Carbonite customer, I can’t verify his answers, so existing and previous customers of Carbonite should confirm or deny.

In any case, the purpose of this posting is to bring to attention the need to focus on the customer for many companies out there. While you’ll never please everyone no matter how hard you try, there should be an intrinsic corporate level value system on customer orientation. The idea is to listen to customers, and clearly communicate intentions and expectations back to them.


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