A Workflow for How To Write A Service Outage Notification

Outage-Notification-Diagram

Although it’s certainly the goal of every company, and IT professionals specifically, to avoid a service interruption to their customers, they are inevitable given enough time.

IT professionals do not spend much time sending communications directly to customers. Even planned updates, upgrades, or service changes are typically shared with the customer service team, who will carefully craft a message.

But what about unplanned service interruptions that happen at 4am and require immediate action? These are the times when proper and effective communication to the customer is crucial.

If you do not already have a template in place, you can use the following guidelines to craft one today.

Essential Structure Of A Notification Email:

Send Immediately – If your customers have not already realized the outage or disruption, they will soon. The faster you’re able to notify your clients, the more on top of the issue you will appear. This will give them the confidence that you are in control and doing everything you can to restore services.

Quality over Quantity – Get to the point. Try to be more like a stop sign and less like a singing telegram. Depending on how disrupted your customers are, they may not have the time to read through non-essential details. In order to effectively communicate your message, it’s best to provide the most important information in as few words as possible.

Honest Explanations – The fact that your customer’s service is out is all they care about. Therefore, it serves no purpose to give excuses or point fingers. Be honest about what the issue is and then go back to working on a resolution.

No Need For Apologies – You may genuinely feel bad for the customers who are affected by the system outage but telling them how sorry you are will do nothing to resolve the issue or make them feel any better.

Be Serious Not Friendly – It’s completely understandable that you would want to use kindness to try to make the pill easier to swallow. However, no matter how nice you are, they will still be without some service that is necessary or critical to their business. It’s a serious matter so you should have a serious tone.

Notification Email Examples

The information and layout you choose for your system outage notification will vary based on your unique business needs, customer type, industry, and other factors. However, there is a general outline that most notifications follow.

Generic Notice from XYZ Company

From: [Your company name]

Subject: Unplanned service outage – [KEY SERVICE NAMES] OR Issue with [KEY SERVICE NAMES]

Opening paragraph should include:

  • Names of services interrupted or affected
  • Approximate time the outage began (or when problem was identified)
  • Day and date of the outage
  • Describe the ways end users are affected (assuming your customer base is diverse, be specific about which subgroups, which platforms, what areas of the services are affected, is the service “unavailable” or just experiencing delays) — be sure to describe the issues a customer would be experiencing as a result of the outage.

Example: One of our data centers has been experiencing problems since approximately 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb 10. Users on shared server plans may be unable to access their server(s) during this time.

Closing paragraph should include:

  • Explain what you company is doing to resolve the issue. This should be brief and direct.
  • Provide a way for your customers to monitor updates or set expectations for how you will communicate future updates.

Example: Our engineers are working resolve the issue. Once the issue has been resolved, we will email all users.

And that’s it. Between those two paragraphs, you will convey all of the information your customers need to understand that you acknowledge there is an issue and that someone is working to resolve that issue.

Good luck!