A Message from Alex on Platform Improvements and Our Plan Forward


Man, the email below was a terribly tone-deaf message for SmartThings to send.

Let me say that I wasn’t upset about the instability of SmartThings for the past few months. It has affected me multiple times, but I’ve been so impressed with how you’ve communicated using status.io that I’ve felt informed and OK about all of the problems. That kind of ended with today’s email.

I’m left scratching my head and wondering why you would send such an uninformative and seemingly false apology. You didn’t need to apologize. Yes, you’ve had stability issues, but I, and most reasonable people, believe that you’re working like your hair is on fire to address these issues. You’ve kept customers apprised of EVERYTHING in an exemplary way for an extended period of time. Effective crisis communications are crazy hard to do without dropping the ball.The messages that you have time to “craft” like the one today should be comparatively easy.

Because I’ve let SmartThings crash in my house (literally recently) for longer than any family members I’m taking this time to write back to you on the topic of sucky communications.

Here’s an outline of why today’s email was Comcastic.

  1. First, let us say that we’re sorry if you’ve experienced any issues with your SmartThings service in the last few weeks. Hopefully your engineers are better at arithmetic than your communications staff. “Few weeks”? Try months. There have been regular, as in multiple times per month, incidents related to performance and stability since November, 2015. You’ve already started this message poorly by misrepresenting reality. Whether the particular issues you’re referring to in this message occurred in the past few weeks or not is irrelevant to the customer who has experienced unstable service since V2 was released.

  2. Your 2nd paragraph is vague and basically derivative of most of prior incident resolution messages. Based on the ongoing instability that I’ve seen after reading your status messages that indicate you’ve “made significant changes” to the physical or application layers I am unconvinced that customers will actually see increased stability.

  3. We’d like to express our sincerest thanks for your understanding as we work to make a better, more reliable platform. When you apologize it can be perceived as insulting and dismissive to presume that you have the understanding of the person to whom you’re apologizing.

  4. If you have any further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact our Support team… I didn’t ask you a question. You emailed me. In fact, the footer of your email states, “You cannot unsubscribe from these messages.” However, you make it pretty clear that you don’t really want to be contacted given that the reply-to address of your email is "no-reply@smartthings.com."

From the customer perspective, at least this customer, I think that SmartThings is great. You’re growing, expanding the devices you support and generally moving in the right direction - all very rapidly. You’ve taken customer satisfaction and communication very seriously and performed well in both categories until this amateur-hour email today.

Don’t screw around with communications that customers are unable to unsubscribe from. You will do nothing but anger people when they realize you’ve wasted their time.


On Thu, Apr 14, 2016 at 5:17 PM, SmartThings <support@smartthings.com> wrote:

First, let us say that we're sorry if you've experienced any issues with your SmartThings service in the last few weeks. We're aware that some customers have been affected, and we have been actively working on ways to improve the stability of SmartThings, and more specifically, Smart Home Monitor. 

One thing we've been able to do immediately is to move everyone over to our new backend scheduling database (the system that makes all of your Routines and scheduled actions possible), and this has already made a huge improvement. We've also enhanced our database in a way that will allow SmartThings to run far more smoothly going forward. 

We'd like to express our sincerest thanks for your understanding as we work to make a better, more reliable platform. We will continue to update you regarding ongoing efforts to improve the SmartThings platform. If you have any further questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact our Support team at support@smartthings.com.

The SmartThings Team 

This is a system message sent to all SmartThings accounts. You cannot unsubscribe from these messages.