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The manner in which your company manages a crisis tells your existing and potential customers a lot about how you run your business. Sales pages and press releases are good but when everything is going well, it’s easy to say good things about your company. One the flip side, when things are going bad – during a time of crisis – that is generally not when we are at our best but it is actually an opportunity to shine.

In this article we will look at three reasons why documenting your status during a crisis is beneficial to both your internal organization as well as your customers.

Keeps the customer informed proactively

Keeping your customer informed is a cornerstone of technical support and operations. It is a highly under rated method of keeping your operations running smoothly. During a crisis, your customers have no idea what you may be doing to fix the situation if you do not tell them. No customer likes to be left in the dark especially when the product or service that they paid you for isn’t working.

Let’s say you release a new version of your product and it contains new features that you consider to be non substantial. Well your customers – new and old – may not feel this way. In fact they may be down right confused, why, because the product has changed. No matter how minor the change, it has changed and that is enough to create confusion. This study done by the Harvard Business Review list ten reasons why people resist change. By keeping your customers informed, it increases your approval rating with your customers because they can see that you are addressing the issue proactively.

Reduces support request

If something goes wrong your customers will contact you. That is how it works. However, if you identify an issue before the majority of your customers do, should you wait until they see the issue then contact you? Probably not, in fact by publishing your issue whatever that may be, you are making your customers aware that there is an issue, that you are addressing and maybe an approximate time when it might be fixed. As long as you place this is a public place, say a support form, forum or blog, your customer has no need to submit a support request. This allows your team to focus on resolving the crisis instead of repetitively responding to it.

Educates, Trains, equips and notifies your staff

When there is a crisis, how does your internal team including you know about it? Obviously the person that discovers it initially knows but what about the rest of the team? Putting a process in place that enforces the documentation is a good practice because it provides awareness for all of your team at the same time. It also provides content that your Support Team can reference and point customer to quickly providing the answers and freeing time for the normal support request.

Delivering Status

Now that we have listed some of the reasons, let talk about how to deliver this information. Transparency maybe the most critical part of this article. The importance of transparency cant be stated enough. An informed customer may not be a happy one but will be more happy than a customer that has an issue and is kept in the dark. Delivery can be a simple post or page on your site – likely in the support section.

See the following good examples from HelpScout of styles that you can use to delivery these statuses:
https://secure.helpscout.net/dashboard/updates/
http://status.helpscout.net/

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