Downtime incidents and Statuspage

An incident is any abnormality that disrupts the service you provide your customers with.  It could happen due to multiple operational and technical reasons. Though incidents are unavoidable for any service provider, it can be dealt with well, turning a bad incident into a memorable customer service experience. Today most top businesses in the world, understand the importance of always being available to their customers and put effort to ensure 100% website uptime. But despite every possible precautionary measure that a business takes, incidents still happen. Only well-planned incident communication can help the organization during unexpected situations.

Who cares when your website is down?

An incident, typically downtime or outage,  matters to all the stakeholders of a business, but primarily the customers. After all, your customer comes first. Not only do they rely on your services for their daily operations, but they also pay you for it; it goes without saying that they have the right to be the first ones alerted when a site goes down. A survey among IT management professionals revealed that a major IT incident can adversely affect a business within 15 minutes. So, keeping incident management systems always on the fly becomes indisputable. This is where status pages come in. A Statuspage is imperative in communicating an incident with customers and all the stakeholders as it will be the single source of truth everyone is looking at, during an incident.

Important aspects of incident communication

Incident communication and management is a proven and effective way to increase trust and confidence that your customers feel towards you.  Timely (the sooner the better) and well-executed communication during a time of crisis, will not only improve customer happiness, but it also increases their trust in your business. Effective incident management is a combination of an effective communication plan and the right tools that serve the purpose.

These are the three key aspects that can help you sail smoothly through a major downtime: Proactive communication, Clarity in communication, Right tools.

Proactive communication

Customers must be informed before they figure out or experience your website’s outage. Businesses that are proactive may even benefit from an incident, by engaging in transparent communication at the time of crisis, resulting in increased trust in your brand among customers. Start by posting an outage banner on the site, informing customers across mediums. Having communication templates ready will help save time and help your IT team greatly.

A well-built status page like Freshstatus, will have omnichannel communication for email and twitter out of the box.

Remember two thumb rules for effective communication 

  • The sooner the better
  •  Keep your customers post at regular intervals (typically, 15-30 mins)

Clarity in communication

If your customers are as clear as your IT team about the incident, it indicates that the message got through, and communication was effective. In a typical outage scenario, a customer wants to understand what the issue is, what services stand to get affected by it, what steps are being taken by the team to resolve it, and how soon a solution will be implemented.

Your customers deserve to know the answers to these questions. It is also imperative that you prevent any potential outrage on social media.  Companies that are best in the business, keep posting answers to these questions right from the occurrence of the incident until it is completely resolved. You can also go one step further by also putting a plan in place and informing your customers of the steps that will be taken to avoid such similar incidents from occurring again.  Companies that have a solid and transparent communication strategy despite an incident’s severity, will always be ahead of the competition.

Right choice of tools

A dedicated status page is an essential component of your communication management strategy. This is the page customers will flock to if your site is not accessible. Social media updates can only alert customers, but they will also want to have more information about what is going on.  Putting up a simple and easily understandable statuspage is an absolute must. Given the importance of this incident communication tool, there are numerous players in the market who can help you build a status page. While selecting a tool that works for you is a subjective choice, there are a few important characteristics to note before making a decision.

  • Ease of use and quickness in building a page
  • Communication capability across multiple channels
  • Accommodation of internal and private communication
  • Comfortable and relevant budget

Beyond these features, status pages can also be branded. Even incident communication is a piece of communication that your brand sends out. So it should be consistent with your brand messaging and tone. Hence customizable status pages could be your top pick.

Incident management is a skill that can be improved with practice. There is scope to learn from every single incident, and this can be applied to your incident prevention strategy, thereby avoiding a similar incident from occurring again. Genuine communication followed by swift action is always the thumb rule when it comes to converting your downtime into a happy customer experience.