When explaining an outage, give details.

When a customer calls reporting or complaining about an outage, service interruption, or anything similar, my advice to customer service representatives is simple: give lots of details. From my experience, the more details the customers get, the better.

Customers like to hear what’s going on – even if it’s bad news. They would much rather hear honest updates than the stock response of “we have no additional information” or the even worse stock response of “we’re investigating.”

They really like to hear what you’re doing to fix the problem, too.If you can tell a particular customer three or four things that have been done in the last 15 or 20 minutes to help resolve the problem, they’ll appreciate it. Of course, you also need to keep employees in the loop in order for customers to be kept in the loop.

While you tell the customer about these updates, you want to tell them that an end is in sight (hopefully you know the general timeline of when a fix will happen) and that you apologize for the inconvenience. If possible, back that apology up with something like a service credit.

Studies have shown that customers who experience an outage or some sort of negative experience that is well handled by the company actually end up more loyal than before. In other words, if you mess up (which everyone inevitably does) and handle it well, it won’t hurt you. In fact, it could actually make the affected customers even more loyal.

One of my favorite quotes is “the road to success is paved with well handled mistakes” (see this post for more). How you handle your mistakes is just as (if not more) important as working towards not making them in the first place.

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