The concept of site maintenance messaging or outage notifications is a delicate subject, but nonetheless an important one. It's something that we bring up with our customers at least once a year, and is of particular importance as we approach Black Friday and Cyber Week—a time when even a short interruption in service can be the difference in whether or not you crush last year's Black Friday record.
Site maintenance and outage pages are the temporary pages that go up during either scheduled maintenance or due to an unplanned interruption of services. It goes without saying that as a services support team, we don’t want or expect your site to go down—but, in the event that it does have a service interruption and an outage message is displayed, it's critical that the messaging be a positive and accurate reflection of your brand. Not only will this minimize any frustration or confusion felt by your customers, but it can even serve to surprise and delight with unexpected value.
So, what goes into creating an effective maintenance page?
Here's our top recommendations for your site maintenance and outage pages:
- Your logo! We can't stress this one enough.
- Messaging that's consistent with your brand and culture:
- The message should reflect who you are
- The message should demonstrate empathy for your customers, showing that you have thought about their experience
- Gentle humour may reduce the sentiment of frustration—if, of course, this fits with the overall voice & tone of your brand.
- Various pages depending on the type of outage—planned maintenance, service disruption, or outages around specific holidays or peak periods (ie. during a Cyber Monday sale)
- Consider offering customers a discount or promo code to use at a later date by capturing their email address.
- An estimate of when service may be restored
- An alternate way to contact customer support (like via email or phone)
- A Google Maps link to location of physical stores
- A live feed of updates or some place customers can check for updates (for example, if you're keeping customers updated via Twitter).
Need some inspiration? Check out these examples of brands who have nailed their maintenance pages:
UK retailer Argos includes a branded page, a brief explanation of the service interruption, a link to a monitored Twitter feed with live updates and a way for visitors to get in touch with the customer service team. [image source]
Photo sharing site, Flickr, does a great job of communicating the reason for the outage and offering visitors alternative content while incorporating one of their member's photos as the background image. [image source]
Old Navy's scheduled maintenance page directs visitors to find a nearby store or connect with customer support via phone. The apologetic tone helps alleviate any frustration that may be felt by customers. [image source]
We recommend that you review your outage or maintenance pages regularly; either once a year, quarterly, or more often if you have specific holiday sales.
At the end of the day, the most important aspect is that you are choosing an outage page that is right for you and your customers.
Need help optimizing your site maintenance pages before Cyber Week? Contact us to discuss your goals.
As Director of Support Services, Patricia eats, sleeps, and breathes customer satisfaction, ensuring the Thinkwrap support team delivers against its commitments to our clients. Patricia brings to Thinkwrap more than 17 years of experience in consulting, operations, and management, spanning manufacturing, government, utility and retail industries. Patricia is passionate about mentoring, continuous learning, and is an avid reader.