thinkpositiveWednesday was a tough afternoon for me.  I’m sure many of you were probably following the twitter stream for #awarenessinc Wednesday afternoon and have some sense of what happened but for those that didn’t, here’s a summary of what went down:

For the last few months we have been promoting a webinar with Chris Brogan for a discussion about his new book “Trust Agents“.  Needless to say the demand for the event was extraordinary.  Over 1200 people registered and I was personally excited to have the chance to chat with Chris about the book. Chris and I spoke several times that morning to discuss the slides, flow and logistics and had worked out every last detail. I started the session 30 minutes early, uploaded the slides and walked through the logistics with our Webex producer who was overseeing the call. I typically use producers for our events so they can provide the recording and manage any tech issues that may arise.  This is particularly important for me for this event because we were dealing with a very large crowd and I wanted to make sure everything went smoothly.

Everything was progressing on plan until Chris tried to join the conference bridge 15 minutes prior to the call.  He was having trouble dialing into the phone line and connecting to the Webex meeting manager.  We attempted several different methods for joining Chris to the bridge (including having him call my cell and putting it on speaker phone to broadcast on the bridge) and nothing seemed to work.  While Webex scrambled to figure out the issue with Chris’ line the situation steamrolled at 2PM ET, when a flood of people attempted to join the session.

Apparently, Webex was experiencing an issue that resulted in everyone getting removed from the line the moment they dialed-in.  People were also having difficulty joining the session over the computer.  We were notified that the Webex tech support team was aware of the problem and was working towards a resolution.  Chris and I immediately began tweeting, emailing and chatting with the individuals attempting to join the call.  We tried in vain to get the call started for over 30 minutes and had no luck.  Once it became clear that issue could not be resolved,  we decided to reschedule and notify everyone of the new date/time once we had it.

We learned a lot during the session just from following the Twitter stream. Most importantly, it emphasized the importance of keeping members in the loop while we were attempting to write the ship. The conversation was great and in the words of @gillat “I think that we proved that even though the webinar was canceled, we still had fun creating a conversation on twitter ;-) #awarenessinc”.

A couple of things I’d like to clear up. First, Webex has planned a meeting with me some of their execs today to discuss how we can make this right. And, when I say “make this right”  I don’t mean for myself, Chris or Awareness – but for the people who registered and spent time waiting on the line. (Special thanks to @faithlegendre for helping to facilitate this). Second, while unfortunate, tech issues do happen and I hope people understand that Webex still offers a quality product and service. Let me be 100% clear, in our opinion this was a serious issue that needs to be dealt with but, while unfortunate, we are still working with Webex on a resolution. Are we upset? Yes. But they heard the chatter on Twitter and will work to correct the issue. I am confident of this. I plan on keeping everyone posted on this process as it plays out.  Stay tuned for details…

On behalf of the team at Awareness, I want to personally apologize to everyone who registered and was on the line waiting for Chris and I. Not so much for the tech issue but for not responding to every tweet/note that came in during the session. To be transparent, we were both working hard to try and think of other alternatives and it was difficult for us to manage the overwhelming response.  We appreciate you patience and we think we have a plan in place to make things right.

The good news is we HAVE rescheduled the session for September 9 at 2PM ET. We are working with PermissionTV to make this a live, streaming session.  We will be proving details on this session by Monday at the absolute latest.  In addition, we will be providing a new eBook to everyone who registered. This was written by Chris and was scheduled to be released to the public in late September. We are finishing the book now and will have it our the attendees who registered for the previous session on Monday as well.

Finally, I want to thank everyone for registering and taking some time to wait on the line to hear from Chris. The audience on our webinars consistently ROCK and we always appreciate hearing their feedback (whether good, or bad).

Feel free to post any questions or voice your frustration here.  You can also email me directly at mike.lewis(AT)awarenessnetworks.com or chat with me on Twitter @bostonmike.

Photo credit: Wavy1

Updated August 31:

Just received this note from Webex to share with our attendees:

August 28, 2009

Dear Attendee,

Thank you for your interest in the Awareness Inc., “Trust Agents: Webinar with Chris Brogan” web event held on Wednesday, August 26, 2009.

On behalf of Cisco-WebEx, please accept our apologies for the telephony issues during this Awareness Inc. sponsored event.  We strive to make each of our customer’s events successful and apologize for the issue.  The telephony issue was not the fault of Awareness Inc. and Cisco-WebEx will continue to work closely with Awareness Inc. to ensure that all future Cisco-WebEx events will provide a high-quality experience.

Sincerely,

Cisco-WebEx Communications, Inc.