One of my clients had a problem earlier today. I helped them choose a new email setup, and they went with Yahoo Business Edition Mail. It’s worked like a charm for them until today. Oh, sure, they’ve had to adjust their business processes a bit, but it was a vast improvement over their previous situation, where only allowed one person in to view his or her mailbox at a time. And it’s quite low maintenance and fairly easy to learn, as it was entirely browser based.
But today, the web client for Yahoo! was busted. New layouts, new colors, old functionality gone, intermittent changes in the GUI, the whole bit. I got on the phone with Yahoo! support, and they assured me it was simply a webmail client problem. No mail was being lost. But, as Joel explains, for most folks, the interface is the program. You try explaining the difference between SMTP and POP and mail storage and local clients to an insurance agent who just wants to send her customers an application.
One of the worst bits is that, other than getting on the phone with Yahoo! support, there was absolutely nothing I could do to fix the problem. Alright, this isn’t entirely true–I could have worked on migrating them off the web client, and perhaps off Yahoo! entirely. And, had the outage continued, I probably would have begun that process. But fixing the web client was entirely out of my hands. That’s the joy and the pain of outsourcing, right? The problems aren’t yours to fix (yay!) but you can’t fix the problems yourself (boo!). Also, chances are the outsourcing provider is never going to be more enthusiastic than you about fixing your problems, and might be significantly less.