How to talk to customers during unplanned outages and notification templates

Need unplanned outage notification templates for critical situations outside scheduled maintenance? Your emergency response during these times needs to be consistent, scaled up and effective.

In this article, you'll learn:

  • The ALERT framework in crafting an effective emergency response
  • Communication tips to create your emergency action plan
  • Checklist for your downtime responses
  • Emergency notification templates across different forms of communication

Follow the ALERT acronym

The ALERT acronym is a good framework to base your response plan out of. This includes key components of a well-crafted alert message template.

  • Application. What is the application affected?
  • Location. What are the key tools that aren't properly working?
  • Event. Is this scheduled maintenance, or is it unplanned?
  • Return. If it's scheduled maintenance, mention the outage window. If not, just mention that you're already fixing the problem through a swift action plan.
  • Talk to. Where can users get updates? Who can users talk to?

Communication tips

Server outages outside the scheduled time will lead to a lot of inquiries that can quickly become overwhelming if you don't handle your communication at scale. Here are key components to create a robust incident communication plan.

  1. Define your channels of communication
  2. Publicly acknowledge and communicate the situation early on
  3. Constantly share updates
  4. Have alert message templates at your disposal
  5. Have incident coordinators within marketing and dev to liaise on the response plan
  6. Have a brief non-technical explanation of the critical situation at hand
  7. Your emergency communication needs to stay consistent across these channels of communication

Checklist and action plan

Effective emergency response requires co-operation and coordination between marketing and dev teams. Have incident coordinators to relay information between teams. Meanwhile, your incident communication plan should be omnichannel to reach the maximum number of users possible. The minor downside to an expansive digital presence is having inquiring customers that care about whether your product is working or not. Here's a checklist for a well-coordinated emergency communications plan.

When the issue is currently happening

  • Update status page
  • Send an email alert about the unplanned outage
  • Update relevant social media bios about the incident and include a link to your status page
  • Craft a social media post notifying about the incident
  • Create response templates for customer support to send to concerned customers
  • Create response templates for inquiries on social media

When the issue has been resolved

  • Send an email to all affected users that the issue has been resolved
  • Publish a social media post that the issue has been fixed (to be deleted after a week or so)
  • Respond to comments and replies, informing them that the issue has been solved
  • Send email replies to customer service tickets informing them that the issue has been resolved
  • Revert social media bios to pre-downtime captions

Unplanned outage notification templates

For your outage alerts, effective communication is a must. Templates are important to manage a deluge of customers asking why your services are down at the same time outside scheduled maintenance. This is the only time, in which you don't want your engagement analytics on social media to be high and filled with negative feedback due to poor communications. Here are emergency notification templates that follow the ALERT framework.

Email emergency alert templates

Subject: Unplanned server outage. Quickly fixing the issue.

Hi first name, Our services are currently down for many users. We're working on quickly fixing this issue. Meanwhile, have a look at our status page to see our latest updates: Instatus link We'll send you another email when it's fixed. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Customer support template

I hope you're well. We're having some unplanned server downtime issues, and it's affecting you and many other users. We're working hard on quickly resolving this issue.
Please kindly visit our status page for updates:
**Instatus link**

I'll send you an email once this has been fixed.

We're really sorry for the inconvenience.

Twitter and other social media channels

Currently facing server issues, but we're working on it ASAP. Here's a link to our status page to check our updates: Instatus link


Unbounce published a nice unplanned downtime blog post.

Effective emergency responses are well-coordinated and consistent

With these tips, you should be able to craft an emergency communications plan to effectively inform your users of the unplanned outage, whilst keeping your communications manageable and consistent across the board.

When things go south, you shouldn't hide from your customers.

Concerned inquiries regarding downtime are an indication that your tool is affecting your customers' everyday lives.

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