Full disclosure: we’re fans of Venmo here at the Technology Therapy Group – at least a few of us are users of the service, although of course we’d never do anything like betting on a football game!
The Big Game this past Sunday was full of surprises. It started with Lady Gaga, who turned in an amazing, classy performance of the national anthem. The game itself went counter to what many experts predicted; neither quarterback turned in the stellar performance they’ve proven to be capable of, and Denver, despite the odds, emerged victorious. Afterward, people who went to pay the wagers they’d made on the game’s outcome encountered one more surprise: the payment app Venmo was working slowing, and periodically, not at all.
At first glance, this downtime may have seemed like a disaster. After all, if you’re an online service provider, the first thing you want to establish is that you’re absolutely reliable. People get very twitchy about their money: if they can’t confidently send funds and verify that the money went where they wanted it to – instantly – they’re going to want to know what is going on.
Venmo managed the slowdown by directing concerned users to Twitter, where status updates appeared throughout the evening until the service was back up to speed. This was the right way to handle the situation, although headlines did appear. Venmo’s performance hiccup was a dark cloud with a silver lining; the coverage of the slowdown raised awareness of the brand in a way that insinuated the service was just too popular for its own good. There are much worse messages to have out there about your brand: growth is a thing that can happen to accommodate surging demand, but the buzz that comes with being the service ‘everybody’ is using is priceless.