What Will You Say To Your Customers When Your Website Goes Down?

At Alertra we often discuss the importance of transparency. When your website goes down, it goes without saying that you need to communicate with your customer base informing them of the issue. However, not all customer notifications are created equal. What you say when you inform your customers of downtime can mean the difference between customer understanding and retained loyalty or increased frustration and future revenue lost.

Twitter As an Example

If you want to see the differences between how companies utilize social media to communicate with website visitors (or would-be visitors, rather) regarding current or recent downtime, Twitter offers the perfect example, with posts ranging from good to bad to downright ugly. Before you decide exactly how you will discuss your downtime issue with the public, consider the three common practices that businesses seem to use when discussing downtime via social media.

The “We’re Back” Approach

Sometimes a company will do nothing more via social media than send a message letting customers know that their site is back up and running. There is no message preceding this one explaining that the site is down. There is no message as to why the site went down. There is merely a message stating that the site is back up and running. This leaves potential customers wondering what happened and questioning your company’s transparency and its ability to communicate issues with the public.

The “Details as They Come” Approach

In contrast to the above approach, this keeps your customers and website visitors updated as to what is going on with your website. The company sends a message when they realize the site is down, messages when updates occur, a message regarding what caused the downtime, and a final message when the site is back up thanking everyone for bearing with them. This is the type of transparency and updating that Internet consumers want to see. They will appreciate the effort you put into keeping them updated and it will help mitigate any damage the downtime may have otherwise caused to your company’s reputation.

The “Turn Lemons into Lemonade” Approach

Some companies take downtime and actually use it to their advantage. This is not to say that the businesses want downtime to occur, but when it does they make the best of it. These companies utilize the “Details as They Come” approach and combine it with a sincere apology and a discount offer to compensate customers for the time they were unable to access the site. For example, let’s say your site was down for 2 hours. You can send a coupon valid for one week for $10 off a $50 purchase of 10 percent off site-wide. The promotion can pull in increased sales, which can help make up for any profit you may have lost during the downtime. This is likely the best approach to take if you want to save your company’s reputation, customer base, and bottom line.

While there are a number of ways you can handle downtime when it comes to communicating to the public, realize that how you communicate and what you communicate does indeed impact how the public perceives your business. If you act like the downtime wasn’t a serious issue, you may leave potential customers wondering if you take your customer satisfaction as seriously as you should, causing them to further question whether or not they should be doing business with you in the first place.