Oops! When something goes wrong on your website, it’s vital to notify your customers about the issue. A service interruption notice is an industry standard for communicating that your website or product is down.
It’s a good idea to have a few service interruption notices ready to go. Ideally, these notices will use your brand style and allow you to build rapport with your customers. At Instatus, here are some incident communication templates that you can personalize and prepare in advance of your next outage.
When you experience an outage, effective communication can make the difference between retaining your customers or losing them to the competition. You should prepare service interruption notices ahead of time, so that you can react quickly and create trust with users.
Here are some reasons why service outage communication is so important:
For your status page, you’ll want a customer-facing dashboard that’s eye-catching and clear. For example, Instatus offers beautiful status pages at affordable rates.
As part of your incident management toolkit, you should use service interruption notices when investigating a potential outage, experiencing a full or partial outage, or undergoing scheduled maintenance. Whatever the situation, you should communicate the issue as clearly as possible. The best outage notices will:
In addition, you can use the ALERT standard for crafting your outage notices. The ALERT acronym can help you think through what to include in your notice:
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?
As you create your system outage messages, be sure to include these key details so that your customers don’t feel like they’re in the dark. For even better communication, you can get a full guide to creating your emergency action plan and engaging with customers during an incident here.
Now that you know what type of information you should include in your service interruption notice, let’s go through some real-life examples. While every company has its unique brand voice, these examples will help you build well-crafted messaging for your own company.
First and foremost, your public status page should wow your customers. (Just check out Instatus’ client gallery to get inspired.) On the status page, you should use an informative tone and stay concise.
Here’s a professional example from Slack’s status page that gives a quick summary of the issue and what they did about it:
Flickr used a different approach with their status page. Because it was planned maintenance – and not an active incident – this company used a playful tone. As you can imagine, planned maintenance has more flexible communication possibilities.
To communicate an incident:
At [date/time], our customers started to experience issues with [affected area]. We’re working urgently to investigate and resolve the issue. Get the latest details on our status page: [Instatus link]
For an update:
Our team has determined that the outage is a result of [reason]. We’re in contact with our [service provider/IT team] to fix this problem and get back online as soon as possible. Check our live service status here: [Instatus link]
Similar to your status page, you should send informative email updates to your customers. Here are some examples of clear and to-the-point messaging.
Google Fiber’s email is a perfect example of top customer service. It outlines what happened and offers a solution (through a $4 credit):
This other outage email message is less formal, but still gets to the point. It’s a bit more playful, but shows transparency:
Subject: Service outage. Quickly fixing issue.
We’re sorry to say we’re experiencing a service outage. At the moment, you may be unable to [affected area]. Our team is working quickly to fix the issue. Meanwhile, you can check our status page for live service updates: [Instatus link].
We’ll be in touch when the issue has been resolved and service is restored. Our deepest apologies for this service interruption.
On social media, you have more flexibility in your tone and style. If you choose a more casual approach, just be sure to communicate the essentials.
This ComEd Twitter gives a short and sweet summary of the outage in a formal way:
Adobe opted for a cheerful tone in their outage Tweet by using puppy GIFs and casual messaging. This can work well, as long as customers feel seen:
We’re currently facing a major network outage. [emojis] We're working urgently on a fix. Get details here: [Instatus link]
Some [company] services are down due to [reason]. Rest assured we’re working on it: [Instatus link]. Here’s a [cute GIF] to take your mind off of it.
Finally, you may use your blog to go more in depth about the incident after the fact. This can help build trust with customers who want more information about what happened.
Groove’s blog breaks down what customers what to know and transparently explains what went wrong:
Unbounce is another good example of a company taking responsibility for an outage and giving specifics:
Now it’s time to personalize these service interruption notice templates for your own brand. To start, simply replace the information with your company’s. In addition, you should:
1. Use your brand voice. Be sure the tone aligns with your brand’s style guidelines.
2. Personalize with images/GIFs. If you opt for a more casual tone, win over customers with the right visuals.
3. Sign off from a CEO or other top employee. Signing off an outage email from a CEO can be quite effective, as customers know the issue is being taken seriously.
Remember that you should also keep your status page personalized. There are plenty of status page services out there, so choose the one that lets you achieve your ideal brand look.
Ultimately, your status page is the #1 source of truth during an active incident. It’s vital to have a beautiful status page that customers can understand, where you can give the most up-to-date information.
As you craft service interruption messaging, be sure to leverage gorgeous status pages on Instatus. Instatus can streamline the way you communicate outages and allow you to build trust with customers – even when something goes wrong.
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