Customer Service

How to maintain customer service during downtime

More and more aspects of business are based online, leaving more companies vulnerability to downtime and outages.

Some downtime is planned, while other outages may be due to technical failure. It’s more important than ever to maintain good customer service during downtime. Failure to do so may result in damage to your brand, and no one wants a bad reputation!

Downtime can also hurt your bottom line.

Studies show that bad customer service may cost businesses up to $75 billion each year. Other statistics show that businesses may lose $100,000 for every hour of downtime.

Follow these tips to maintain customer service during an outage to protect your brand and your profitability.

1. Define an outage before it happens

The best way to maintain good customer service during downtime or even a disaster is to plan for it. The first part of planning is to define what constitutes as downtime or an outage.

There is planned downtime for system updates, and there are accidental outages due to everything from technological failures to acts of God.

Talk about both kinds of downtime—planned and unplanned. When either kind of downtime comes into play, your downtime plan can easily get rolled out as long as employees are aware of what they are supposed to do.

2. Assign downtime roles

In your plan, you should always assign downtime roles.

Who is going to man the customer service e-mail account? Who is going to put up the “temporarily unavailable” page on your website? Who is going to be responsible for answering the phone, even if it is an unconventional hour in your area? Who is going to be responsible for actually fixing the problem at hand and instating a backup if necessary?

Assign any roles necessary and make sure employees know how they will help during an outage.

3. Create communication templates

The best way to keep customers happy during an outage is to communicate.

Let them know via whatever channels you have available that something is not working right. Make a template before anything goes wrong so that all communication during the outage is fast and effective.

Be sure to let your customers know when you expect everything to be back up and running and include information about alternatives or other help you are offering. Some companies like to keep it light, adding a funny quip or a cute meme to make users giggle instead of scowl.

Do whatever fits your brand and your company culture.

4. Open alternative lines of communication

If the main way your business gets in touch with clients fails, make sure to open up other lines of communication.

Use Twitter, social media messaging, an alternative e-mail account or a temporary phone number. Make sure to let customers know about these new channels and have someone at the ready to answer messages and phone calls.

5. Consider offering a discount or bonus

When all is said and done, consider offering some type of perk for your customers depending on the severity of the downtime.

Of course, this does not have to apply for planned downtime, but if there is an exceptionally long unplanned outage, it may be a good idea.

Decide what you’re willing and able to offer and who you will offer it to. Ideas include offering it only to a certain tier of clients, offering a small discount on the next bill, or simply deducting the cost of the amount of time of the outage.

Customer service never stops

Customer service never stops, even if your network is offline. Always be prepared for downtime.

If you need help with your downtime plan, contact your managed IT services provider to find out how they can help. With the right IT support on your side, negative effects of downtime may become a thing of the past.