Recently, a power transformer on my street malfunctioned and the power at my home (which includes my office) went off. I have a UPS (uninterruptable power supply) for my network so that I don’t lose connectivity—at least until the UPS battery is drained—and always have some backup battery power for my mobile phone.
Now I have an outage. For my household, it’s critical, with major impact on our ability to function. For my energy utility company, it’s a local outage affecting 15 or 20 customers. Luckily, my energy utility understands how critical their service is to my life.
- Within three minutes of the power going off, I received a text message acknowledging a power outage in my area and asking me to let them know if our power was in fact off. This was accomplished with a one-character response.
- After I responded that, yes, it’s off, I received another text telling me how many customers were affected and when the company estimated the power would be back on.
From my perspective as a customer, I now know that it is an outage affecting my area (this is important for reasons I’ll get to in a moment) and how long the utility expects it to last. From the utility company’s perspective, they now have confirmation that their alerts are correct. But more than that, they’ve also established a line of communication before I even had the chance to pick up the phone and call them or check their website or social media. Peace of mind for me (I have some facts) and for them (they won’t get a flurry of customer calls).
I mentioned that it was important for me to know there was an outage in my area—but why? I obviously know that the lights went off. What I didn’t know was why. How many times has a call or chat to the service desk started with an end user asking, “Is it just me, or…”? In this case, I got the answer before I had a chance to ask the question.
How does your organization let people know that a service is down? Do you give them an estimated time to restore that service? Are you still getting call storms when there’s an interruption to a critical service?
How does your organization let people know that a service is down?
Today, almost everyone carries a smartphone—or at the very least a mobile phone. Does your organization have their numbers? Can you get them to opt-in for an alerting system so that they can receive messages from the organization, not only in the case of an IT outage, but for other reasons as well? Here are some examples:
- A dangerous storm affecting travel to/from work
- A natural disaster affecting work sites
- A critical outage of services (electrical, communications, IT, etc.)
Think about ways you can be proactive. Peace of mind for you: no call storms. Peace of mind for users and customers: they are in the know.
Roy Atkinson is one of the top influencers in the service and support industry. His blogs, presentations, research reports, white papers, keynotes, and webinars have gained him an international reputation. In his role as senior writer/analyst, he acts as HDI's in-house subject matter expert, bringing his years of experience to the community. He holds a master’s certificate in advanced management strategy from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and he is a certified HDI Support Center Manager. Follow him on Twitter @RoyAtkinson.