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Communicating during downtime

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Thursday February 25, 2010 )

As a web site owner, there’s nothing worse than your site or an essential service like a shopping cart or email application being down and the service provider isn’t communicating.

It’s an awful feeling of disempowerment and frustration soon sets in. You email the support desk.. nothing. You call the support line and you’re left on hold because a bunch of other frustrated customers are doing the same thing and when you do get through, the poor CSA on the other end is frazzled and really doesn’t know what is going on.

There is a solution to keeping customers informed and it’s not particularly high tech – a network status site. It can be something as simple as a blog. Register a name like and make sure your clients know about it.

However, many web hosts and ASP’s (Application Service Providers) do have network status sites yet fail to keep them updated during times of crisis. Either that, or they host the network status site on a server affected by the outage.

Hosts and ASP’s, get the network status site off your own servers. Use dynamic DNS so in a really bad scenario where your services are down as well as the server hosting the network status site, you can put it up somewhere else really quickly.

Have specific staffers whose responsibility it is to update the status site every 30 minutes. Don’t post vague updates with a few words, be definitive and provide details. People don’t want excuses, they want action and to know action is occurring.

It’s really not all that hard to do and will not only reduce the stress to your customers, but to your front line staff as well.

Most reasonable customers understand that stuff happens from time to time – but when they don’t know what stuff is happening or when or how it will be fixed, that’s when you start getting service cancellation notices.


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