Discover’s Site Crashes, Takes Part Of Phone System With It

Written by Evan Schuman
February 2nd, 2011

Web crashes are bad enough, with customers frustrated by the disconnect. But it’s even worse when part of your phone system goes dark at the same instant and customer information disappears from the screens of call center customer service people. ‘Tis an experience Discover discovered on Thursday and Friday (Jan. 27 and 28).

When the site crashed, it posted an apology message for visitors: “We’re sorry. Due to a system issue, you may be experiencing an interruption in customer service. The issue is affecting Discover’s automated phone system, as well as” Systems weren’t restored until Friday about 5 PM New York time.

The apology also told customers that account information and related data “remain secure” and that their cards could still be used for purchases. (Now, now. No cracks about “Where?”)

Discover itself opted to shed virtually no light on why the crash happened. But what Discover Senior PR Manager Laura Gingiss said is that call center reps accessed their customer-specific database (purchase activity and whatnot) through the same database that the site used. When the database crashed on Thursday, both the site and the reps were left data-less. “The reps couldn’t access data, account information,” she said in a phone interview. Call center reps confirmed, though, that they were able to take calls during the outage.

Gingiss E-mailed a statement that said—without explanation—the outage “had nothing to do with our infrastructure, network or telephony. Our VoIP [Voice-over-IP] network and telephony infrastructure were up and running without issue. Our toll-free number worked fine; cardmembers were able to call us and speak with customer service reps. We had a systems issue making some data temporarily inaccessible to our customer service functions.”

The phone system issues are still confusing, though.


One Comment | Read Discover’s Site Crashes, Takes Part Of Phone System With It

  1. Mike M Says:

    Automated phone systems typically use the same data as Servicing reps to manage the Phone hiearchy and routing as well as functions that can be satisfied without having to route to a rep. Without the data, the phone hiearchy can’t function properly and will most likely fail and/or dump to an overloaded default call center group. I don’t see this as a VoIP issue even if the network is shared.


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