August 12, 2011 — It’s 2:00 am and my phone was ringing. This is never a good sign, so I braced myself and was informed we had a company crisis on our hands. Every single customer with a free account of our SaaS solution had received an email informing them that their account was no longer active. If they wanted to continue accessing our SaaS product, and view their IT operational data, they would need to enter their credit card to regain service. I’ll back up a few days, so I can share with you how we got here, and how we managed to get hundreds of angry customers back on our side. We were experimenting with different levels of product offerings and pricing models, and what customers would get in return at the new levels. We worked through how best to communicate it and how to grandfather customers both to and from the free offerings. We toiled meticulously because in this age of social media, if you screw up and anger a customer, Twitter bombs will start exploding before you even know what you did. We worked through an exhaustive process to not screw this up. And then my phone rang at 2:00 a.m. All that we had so carefully planned not to happen, just happened by accident through an unintentional execution. My first thought was “holy crap,” then I went into damage control mode, and spent the next four days there.