Communicating During Outages
This is a black hole for organizations sometimes. The messages that get sent before, during and after scheduled or un-scheduled outages are often last minute and not thought out. Also, these messages sometimes get delegated to technical and support staff that can have the tendency to rub people the wrong way. So, marketing types, take control of the message (because that’s what you’re paid to do) and write the right message during your outages. Below is a quick outline you could use:
- Your planned outage message: Let every one of your customers know what is going on, when it is happening, why it is happening and what they’ll need to do (like restart, reinstall etc…). Also, encourage them to contact your support team or direct them to a knowledgebase article to answer any questions they may have. Send this at least a week ahead of maintenance and follow up until the day of.
- Your successful follow up message: Tell your clients that everything is fine and that you appreciate their patience. More importantly, be sincere; you’re providing a service that they were without for x amount of hours so appreciate what they had to incur. Your clients will like the sense of completion, delete your email and go about their day.
- Your OMG WTF message: These are the ones that are the most important – informing customers or an outage or service interruption. Planning for these is possible, just create a template that addresses the problem and be sure to include a sincere apology. Be transparent and forthcoming with information. If the server crashed, say the server crashed and you’re working hard to restore backups and get you back up and running. When things are fixed, be sure to send another message communicating what went wrong, how you fixed it and how you’ll prevent it from happening again.
If you’re not already in control of these messages, then you should be or at least train your tech department to say the right things when i comes to client comm. Own the errors and be forthcoming, in the long run it will build more trust and respect for your company.