When Your Website Is Facing an Outage, Communication is Key

When it comes to consumer relations, communication is everything. A website like Consumerist.com should know this. After all, their website is dedicated to consumer relations. So why were Consumerist.com fans left in the dark for days while the site has been experiencing an outage? This is a prime example of why communicating with your website visitors is key if you want to maintain their respect and loyalty.

The outage of the Consumerist.com website has definitely had an impact on the company’s reputation. Not because the website went down, but because they failed to communicate properly with loyal website visitors regarding the nature of the outage. As one Twitter member Douglas Muth stated, “So anyone know what happened to The Consumerist's website? It's been down for vague reasons with zero communication.” And it appears that Mr. Muth is not the only one who is frustrated with the lack of communication. There have been plenty of tweets going around with comments like “Your website has been hacked. Again. For like the fifth time this year.” and “Seriously how long does it take to fix a Word Press website?”

It is evident that Consumerist.com readers are not too happy about the outage, but the negative comments could probably have been avoided by communicating properly with the Consumerist.com audience – something the company failed to do.

As of the time of this post the site is still down. Not good news for Consumerist.com fans. The site has, however, now taken steps to explain (at least to some degree) the reason for the outage (however vague the explanation may be). If you visit the Consumerist.com website you come to a page with the following message:

“Dear Consumerist Readers, We'd like to take the opportunity to update you on our current technical difficulties and what we plan to do going forward. We are working (day and night) on an interim solution that will allow us to keep the content coming. As we mentioned before, it was a tough choice to take the site down while we make changes, but our readers are the most important consideration, and everything we do is with your best interests in mind. Thanks for your patience, your understanding, and your offers of assistance. Our readers are the best, and anyone who says otherwise probably does PR for Bank of America. We look forward to writing for you again soon. Yours Truly, The Consumerist”

Of course, the message makes no mention of exactly when Consumerist.com plans on going live again or exactly what they are doing that has resulted in such a long period of downtime. This is probably why the frequent followers of the site are venting their frustrations online.

As we have said in the past, website downtime is sometimes unavoidable. The key to managing the downtime properly is in maintaining communication with your website visitors. An outage that lasts for days is not acceptable unless there’s a very good reason for the downtime. The reason, however, must be properly communicated to your website visitors. The Consumerist.com website should know the value of consumer communication.

Don’t make the same mistake made by Consumerist.com. As an Alertra customer, you will know if your site goes down. If it does, even if it’s just for an hour, make sure you communicate the reason for the outage to your site visitors. They will appreciate the transparency and you won’t need to worry about taking a hit to your business’s reputation.