[“On Writing” is a new category of SvN post that offers examples of interesting online copy.]

Freshbooks responds to downtime
It’s easy to provide great service when things run smoothly. Handling problem situations is a much tougher — and often more important — test. Freshbooks’ Up and Running blog post is an example of how to do it right.

The company experienced a hardware failure which resulted in downtime and some loss of data. Bad news for sure. But the company’s response, including a detailed explanation and a free upgrade for all accounts, defused the situation and turned a negative into a positive.

Especially nice: the clearly titled sections that explain the problem, what caused it, what they were doing about it, how to tell if you were affected, what to do if your account was affected, and an apology.

For anyone who was inconvenienced by the interruption of service and/or irretrievable data, myself and the entire FreshBooks teams are deeply sorry. I want to extend our thanks to those of you who called and emailed to enquire about the problem. To a person, everyone was polite and understanding, which under the circumstances, was greatly appreciated by myself and the other FreshBooks staff who were hard at work bringing the service back online.

The result? Impressed customers who left raves like these:

Thanks for the open communication and commitment to quick resolution during this ordeal.
I for one greatly appreciate your detailed information, acknowledgement of the problem, and your willingness to provide your clients with some perks to make up for the inconvenience. Outstanding customer service is very hard to come by nowadays. I am a new trial FB user who is now sold, if I wasn’t already!
I appreciate the honesty, dedication and commitment on the part of the FreshBook staff.

Dreamhost’s anatomy of a(n ongoing) disaster
Dreamhost handled a similar rough patch with a long explanation peppered with tongue in cheek images of disaster scenes. The level of detail is impressive though it’s probably a good idea to offer some sort of Cliff Notes version for people who don’t want to read through that much text.

Our number one priority right now is getting this nagging network problem understood and fixed. Once that’s the case, we should be able to put things back in Alchemy, who didn’t lose power on Friday at least. Once things are going good there, we’ll be able to add new servers and transition old ones slowly with little to no downtime.

We’re also going to be buying our own UPSes, since we have learned we can’t trust our data center OR our building to do it. We’ll start by putting the core routers on them, then our internal databases and servers, then our file servers, and finally the hundreds of customer mail, web, and database servers.

Tech support for technophobes
Phoenix Soleil provides tech support for people who are scared of computers. Tech vets may scoff at her frilly tone but it probably resonates strongly with her target market: technophobes who need help taming their PCs.

Do your computer problems leave you feeling overwhelmed, confused or isolated?

When I coach someone with computers, I make technology accessible by explaining it in language they can understand and by going at a comfortable pace. My teaching method is nurturing, with my personal commitment to respecting a person’s intelligence. My goal is to destroy shame and make using technology enjoyable…

My patient, caring one-on-one guidance and instruction helps technophobes overcome their fear.

Related: Six Apart does their customers right [SvN]