Having a system go down is no laughing matter. But if you’re going to notify your users, why not do it with a little humor? It will work as long as you don’t flash the message too often.
I received the following pop-up message below from Yahoo today.
Can’t talk now. System’s down.
Sorry for the holdup.
Looks like a temporary glitch in our network has part of Yahoo! mail down, so you’re briefly without service. Rest assured the alarms are blaring in the basement and our team is working frantically to get you up and running ASAP. Again, the snag is on our end — so there’s no need for you to do a thing.
Back to it, Yahoo! Mail Team
Notice that the message apologizes for the inconvenience. When was the last time you received an apology for poor service? Apologies are so rare these days, we hardly notice their absence. However, apologies indicate that someone knows about your frustration and cares about how you feel (and will actually work hard to fix the problem).
In addition, the message notes that “there’s no need for you to do a thing.” The company knows about the problem, and you don’t need to call or email. That’s proactive communication.
The message also provides great imagery. Because you can hear the bell ringing and see all the techs running around, you have confidence that you won’t wait very long.
One company I worked for had a banner on their intranet home page where they noted any down systems or networks and provided an estimate of when service would be restored. Eventually, everyone learned to check the intranet first before they notified the help desk (or in the case of VPs, called the CIO).
The banner reduced the workload of the help desk, lead technicians, and their associated managers so they could focus on fixing the problem instead of providing constant status updates.
Maybe it’s time to suggest a similar banner in your organization.