Easy IT outage communication plan to execute

Handling an outage can be a high-pressure situation for your company. Yet, there’s no need to panic. By having an incident communication plan in place, your team can provide top-notch service while putting out the fire.

An outage communication plan is the key to minimizing the negative consequences of an incident and winning over loyal customers when something goes wrong. Your company can put together an incident communication template by following our guide below.

Why do you need an incident communication plan?

Planning for the unexpected can help your team provide the best possible customer experience during an incident, instead of scrambling to respond in the moment. Overall, using an outage communication template can help your company:

  • Gain loyal customers through great service recovery
  • Reduce customer inquiries and complaints during incidents
  • Empower your customer service team to handle incidents
  • Protect your company against loss of sales and liability costs
  • Boost your brand reputation and maximize business growth

Creating an incident communication plan doesn’t have to be time-consuming either. We’ve broken down the key components of a plan, so you can easily know how to handle outage notifications and build a robust incident management toolkit.

Best practices of outage communications

Outage communication happens at various touch points, including a contact page, support tickets, help documentation and a Twitter account. As you communicate with customers during an outage, keep in mind these best practices:

  • Focus on the customer and empathize
  • Be honest about the scope of the incident
  • Build confidence by communicating early and often
  • Offer workarounds wherever possible
  • Use personality with caution
  • Link your status page in key locations

Ultimately, your status page is an essential tool for communicating outage notifications during an incident. For your status page, choose a dashboard that’s informative and attractive. For example, Instatus offers beautiful status pages at budget-friendly rates.

Key components of an outage communication template

Every incident communication plan will be unique to the company’s specific teams and requirements. However, here are a few common components for a plan that’s easy to execute during an unplanned outage.

1. Establish a single source of truth

With everything going on, it can be a mess trying to track down the latest information about an incident. Instead of time-consuming back-and-forths, build a status page using Instatus as a single source of truth. This page can be used both internally and for client-facing outage communications.

2. Define what you consider an incident

Not every incident has the same level of severity. It’s important for your team to have clear definitions of what’s an incident (ideally based on metrics), so that the crisis response is triggered only when it should be. Here are some typical severity definitions for any outage communication template:

  • Severity 1: Very high impact. A client-facing service is down for all customers, or there’s been a privacy or data breach.
  • Severity 2: Significant impact. A client-facing service is down for a group of customers, or a core feature is unavailable.
  • Severity 3: Low impact. Some service or a specific feature is down, causing inconvenience, though workarounds are typically available.
  • Severity 4: Very low impact. A customer is facing an issue, but it doesn’t impact the overall customer experience.

3. Automate alerts for a key list of team members and stakeholders

Ideally, your team should create a list of team members and stakeholders that should be automatically notified in the case of an incident. Having these key notifications automated can save your team time as they work out what’s going on.

4. Create a workflow for responsibilities during an outage

Your team should know who’s in charge of what during an outage. Be sure to document responsibilities so that everybody’s on the same page. You might even consider training your team during a drill outage, so that they get used to their roles.

5. Set preferred communication channels ahead of time

The communication channels you use internally and with customers should be clear from the get-go. In addition to your dedicated status page, your outage communication template should define how to notify managers and stakeholders – whether via email, chat tool, phone or more. Your company should also have a plan for customer care on social media, which can become a firestorm without the right messaging.

6. Prepare outage notifications in advance

The most important step for any incident communications is to have templates ready for typical outages. For example, you should prepare outage notification samples in advance according to the:

Your team should have these IT outage notification templates well-documented so that it’s easy to respond – no matter the type of incident.

7. Implement a postmortem policy to improve future response

Post-incident should also be part of your outage communication plan. After every incident, your team should do a postmortem in order to find out what went wrong and how to improve the response in the future. For example, your company may need to invest in a better website maintenance plan in order to prevent unexpected incidents.

Leverage Instatus as part of your incident communication plan

In the heat of the moment, your team doesn’t have time to create the perfect messaging. By preparing an incident communication plan, your team will know exactly what to do in case of an outage and can leverage ready-to-use outage notification templates.

Remember that your outage communication plan relies on having a single source of truth for updates: the status page. You can give customers up-to-date details on an attractive dashboard by choosing Instatus. Instatus lets you build beautiful and informative status pages like these for better customer care during a crisis.

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