How to Manage Customer Interactions During a Service Outage

Do you have a plan for managing customer interactions during an outage?

Outage and periods of down-time come in all shapes and sizes, and despite all of your planning, various investments in facilities/technologies, expert employees and best efforts, sometimes you just can’t help things going wrong. Weather/natural situations can rarely be prevented, and sometimes neither can the actions of third-party partners, support- or just general human error!

One thing you can control, though, is the way in which you handle the situation…

 

Throughout the past few years, it’s become a lot more complicated to manage customer interactions during an outage, and there’s a couple of reasons for that:

1. Customer support is now 24/7- there’s not much grace to allow you to get back up and running, especially without customers being impacted or getting in touch first.

2. Customer Service Advisors/Representatives’ job roles are now more specialised than they once were. As much as this improves the Customer’s experience, it also means it can sometimes be harder to switch in Advisors from elsewhere, or to quickly train new Advisors when outages happen- especially if customer service isn’t your brand’s specialism.

 

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done! The big question is, what steps can you take to ensure that you’re minimising the impact on your customers’ experience?

 

1. Outline and Document the Process

Be sure to outline all steps and ownership for every possible circumstance you can think of and document, so that when it comes to it, everyone knows exactly what they need to do to get things up and running again.

 

2. Cover Numerous Contact Methods

Make sure you have back-up communication methods ready and waiting to switch to, should you need to.

Although you do want to steer clear of moving customers across to alternative contact methods day-to-day, you also need to keep the customer updated. In situations like this, it may be necessary to choose a contact method on behalf of your customer.

 

3. Use Software to your Advantage

Rather than leave your customer waiting on the line/on a response, repeatedly calling back, set-up an IVR or automated response to explain the situation to the customer and give them the option to request a call-back.

You can also use this opportunity to provide alternative contact methods to prevent a bottle-neck in one channel, which may be appropriate in certain situations (depending on the nature of the issue) such as Social Media.

 

4. Be Honest and Transparent

Be honest with your customer about the outage, its cause, how it will affect them, and when it will be resolved. And if you don’t know there and then, then keep them updated. Make sure you’re giving accurate timescales and where possible provide your customers with alternatives (for example; signal boosters, replacement devices, etc).

 

5. Have a Plan B

Yes, that’s right- make sure you have a plan B in addition to all of the above… Now we’ve got you thinking!

 

Outsourcing your customer service provides you with an additional level of contingency.

If you’d like to talk to us about your customer contact requirements, simply get in touch.

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