When content strategy fails, RoadRunner edition

Sarah O'Keefe / Opinion6 Comments

Our home Internet connection is usually reliable, but today I come home to what I think must be an outage. No Internet on any of our Wifi networks.

That means my laptop cannot connect, so I turn to my phone. After disabling wifi, I can connect via cellular data, and my goal is to figure out whether our Internet provider (RoadRunner/Time Warner) is having an outage.

Step One, consult the RoadRunner site. I type in rr.com and get m.rr.com, the default mobile site. Attractive mobile site, actually, but why is it full of news articles?

Who would go to a mobile version of RoadRunner for a news portal? I have all sorts of better options for news. From RoadRunner, I need support and network status information.

Anything useful in the menus? No.

I cannot find a link to network status or even general support anywhere on the mobile site.

Next stop, the dreaded FULL SITE.

Network status? Can’t find it.

Support? No. (I checked that section. Not useful.)

FAQs?? OK…

Not on the first page.

Not on the second page.

I will spare you the next 12, yes, ONE DOZEN screenfuls before I finally get to the teeny-tiny network status entry, which lives inside…let’s guess.

  • Would it be “Connection Issues”?
  • “Error Messages”?
  • “Computer Setup”?
  • “Security/Abuse”?
Did you guess Security/Abuse? I didn’t.

At last, we reach the Network Status section. Oh, look, my outage is listed here (address info smudged by me):

Of course, instead of scrolling through gobs of random FAQ sections, I should have just done this:

It’s the first hit.

(And, in fact, I wasn’t able to locate the network status through Road Runner’s navigation until after I found it via Google search and then reverse engineered the navigation path.)

The page indicates that we do indeed have an outage at our location. But when we will our Internet come back? The outage was reported three hours ago according to the status page.

Because I’m a slow learner, I call Time Warner. I navigate the Phone Menu of Intense Irritation. I’m told there’s an outage in my area and that customer service reps have no further information. They offer to provide a callback and I get to choose a number, so I do. (“Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” OK, maybe it wasn’t phrased that way. Actually, Phone Lady has a lovely soothing voice, which is becoming rather necessary.) But a callback is a nice touch, and they even promise not to call after 9 p.m. or before 9 a.m. Time Warner is redeeming themselves…I tap in my cell phone number….

“For technical reasons, we will not be able to provide a callback. We are very sorry, but we cannot help you any further at this time. Goodbye.” (click)


Dear Time Warner/RoadRunner.

Call me. No, really. I can help you fix this.


Your Frustrated Customer and Content Strategist

About the Author

Sarah O'Keefe


Content strategy consultant and founder of Scriptorium Publishing. Bilingual English-German, voracious reader, water sports, knitting, and college basketball (go Blue Devils!). Aversions to raw tomatoes, eggplant, and checked baggage.

6 Comments on “When content strategy fails, RoadRunner edition”

  1. Recently I had a similar (though not nearly so painful) experience trying to navigate Time Warner Cable’s site. Clearly the site is set up for selling, not for customer service. Until somebody at TWC figures out that good customer service is vital to any marketing strategy, you probably won’t be getting that call from them.

  2. The worst part of all is that I wasn’t even that bothered by the actual outage. Outages happen, and our service has been generally reliable. It was the inability to get two simple bits of information that was so infuriating. All I wanted to know was:

    * Is the outage known to RoadRunner?
    * When will the outage end?

    (edited to clarify first sentence)

  3. But the moral of the story here is really that you can’t make navigating a website easier than finding information on Google. It was the first hit on the first search string you tried. There is no way to design a web site to beat that, and the web is teaching more and more people everyday the counterintuitive lesson that it is easier to search the entire web than to search one site.

    Every page is page one.

  4. Good story and an all-too-frequent occurrence. It’s more like “The Failure That Happens When You Don’t Have a Content Strategy” because a list of news stories is _not_, under any circumstances, a strategy.

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