For customer support teams, system outages make for a difficult day at the office, but they can also provide you with the opportunity to stand out. Many studies have shown that a failure to overcome a service well can lead to a higher customer satisfaction level than a failure to never – a service recovery paradox.
You can make a significant impact on the customer experience by focusing on clearly communicating with customers about system outages. Follow these tips and use the recommended samples and templates below to make your unplanned outage less painful for everyone.
Fundamentals of great system outage messages
During the stress of a major service outage, it is easy to forget that your customers are often in even more difficult positions. They are affected by the outage, but they have little information yet on what is happening. In many cases, they also have their own customers who are seeking answers from them.
Being an accurate, clear and timely source of information, you can reduce their stress significantly. Communication must occur during an outage:
Inform the customer: Tell them what is happening and what it means for them
Build their confidence: Let them know that the situation is being taken seriously and actively worked so that they can safely do other work in the meantime.
It is also important to ensure that your outage message is easily accessible. After all, your artisan, exquisite handcrafted status message means nothing to those who never see it, so wherever you store your status updates, make sure your customers know where to look.
Link your status page prominently in key locations such as your contact page, your support / operations Twitter account, and your support documentation.
During an event, push messages to your primary support channels, link people to the status page to acknowledge the issue and as a source of updates.
You want to keep your status page on a separate infrastructure to reduce the risk of an incident taking down your service and status page at the same time.
11 outage communication best practices
In my own career, writing status updates during major events was the most nervous moment. You are working under pressure, often with limited information, and writing for an audience of reasonably troubled people.
Do your future a favor yourself and plan the surprise: think ahead to the most common type of outage, and come up with some sample communication. Write versions that will fit into an email, a status update, and even a tweet, and put them in your outage action plan.
As you are drafting your communication for an unplanned system outage, follow these 12 best practices.
1. Accept the issue
Get an opening message when you know that a significant number of your customers have been affected. Nothing shakes a customer’s confidence like a status page that shows “all is good!” When major problems are occurring.
2. Be sympathetic to affected customers
Show some real understanding for your customers, who have been most affected by delays and perhaps too much. Avoid clichés like “We apologize for any inconvenience” and go for something more specific and honest.
3. Communicate clearly the scope of the outage
This is not always possible, but more clearly you can define who is being affected and in what ways, you can make it easier for your customers to understand if they are seeing the same problem. Which you are reporting. If it is a particular area of an application or geographic location, share that information.
4. Focus on customer impact
Describe problems in the way a customer is affected rather than an internal cause. “Customers are unable to pay for goods” is better than when our payment gateway was down. ”
5. Give options where possible
If there are workarounds or backup options available that will work in the meantime, let them know. Explain clearly how customers can take advantage of those workarounds until things return to working normally.
6. Do not blame; Take responsibility
If you use a third-party system (and sometimes you can solve problems outside of your domain, you are still responsible for your customer experience.
7. but give important reference
Mentioning a third party can be useful information if it gives your customers a better picture of what is happening and how it affects them. For example, “We are in touch with our payment gateway, and once we get to know more from them, we will update you here.”
8. Write at the technical level of your audience
Provide as much detail as would be useful – but no more. Too many technical details can be confusing and inaccessible if many of your audience have not understood it.