SECTION 5 OF 5

Preparing for possible phone outages

11 steps to take now to prepare for a phone outage

In this era of technology and digital equipment, companies must be proactive in case of phone outages and other communications emergencies, because the incoming call is the fuel that starts the engine. Almost 75% of all phone systems today are some type of VOIP system. 

There are several issues that may arise, but we can be proactive to prepare to drive our businesses forward during an outage.

Below are ways that have been suggested from your peers to overcome and continue to drive your businesses forward.

  1. Create an emergency call fallback program for phone outages. Phones can be affected in power outages, too, so multiple strategies are needed to account for multiple scenarios.

  2. Have directions available for changing the messaging, or pre-record a message if that option is available, for the IVR/phone greeting. Write a script directing customers to your website for online booking and include it with the directions.

  3. If you have a chat service, make sure they are informed, have the correct call script, and have an easy way to capture leads and book calls, either by directing callers to the web scheduler link or booking the call themselves, depending on your arrangement. The goal is to have the chat service provide details of bookings as soon as possible. To that end, companies will want constant contact, so a vehicle like a Slack channel is essential.

  4. Inform everyone on your team about the outage, even those in the field. Have technicians and others in the field call a cell phone number, not the office number — this is what "teams" can also be used for.

  5. Communicate with customers via all your social media channels. Go live, add the URL for booking to every channel, and apologize for the interruption, explaining the situation with what you know (part of a nationwide outage, etc.). 

  6. Consider setting up a cell phone number as a redirect for texts from ServiceTitan, and make calls back from that phone. Beware of potential charges and your company’s personal cell phone use policy. 

  7. Have CSRs watch unanswered call bubbles and call customers back. Delegate as needed.

  8. Watch abandoned calls, adding them to a spreadsheet if needed.

  9. Inform your digital vendors, as these outages can interfere with data.

  10. Changing your website banner to alert site visitors to the outage could be effective, but might not be possible in all situations. The expected length of the outage, which can sometimes be unknown, should also be considered. 

  11. It would be a drastic move, but in a case where phone calls aren’t coming through at all, another option is to change your displayed number on websites, digital ads, and anywhere else can be changed quickly. Also update it to an alternate number (a cell phone or a direct office line). There are risks that should be weighed against the cost of not receiving the calls at all. This should be done as your last resort, and when the crisis is over changed back immediately.

Managing for the unexpected puts you ahead of your competition and makes you a leader in the industry.

-William Powers

Email/blog post template 

Want to consider an email to all customers, or a blog post? Communications don't need to be super long, but they should answer three basic questions customers are likely to ask:

  1. What happened?

  2. When will it be fixed?

  3. Is there anything I need to do?

The service recovery paradox says customers can often be more loyal to a business after experiencing a service failure than if it had never happened to begin with, but that all depends on how transparent the business is and how willing they are to make it up to a customer if the customer is inconvenienced.

Here's a simple example:

Are you having difficulty reaching <Company Name> by telephone? A phone outage is limiting the availability of phone communication with our company and others. Here’s what you need to know, and how to reach us should you need our services:

What happened?

There is currently a nationwide phone service outage, which is affecting our ability to make and receive phone calls.

When will it be fixed?

This large-scale outage is unfortunately affecting many other providers across the country, including emergency services. We are currently waiting for resolution, as it falls outside our direct control. However, rest assured we are actively monitoring the outage and will notify you as soon as the issue is resolved.

Do I need to do anything?

If you need to reach us for any reason, the best way to get a hold of us is by <INSERT YOUR PREFERRED METHOD HERE>. Otherwise, there’s nothing you need to do right now.

Phone outages are a major hassle, and we apologize for any inconvenience it might have caused you. We sincerely appreciate your patience while the issue is being resolved, and we thank you for being our valued customer.

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ALSO: Here is another sample email that you can reference to send to your customers. If you are on Marketing Pro, this email is already included in your template library.