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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Question How do you keep your clients informed about server/network issues?

    Greetings,

    I was wondering how everyone keeps in touch with their clients when there's a problem (anything from minor issues, up to complete outages).

    What tools are you using to announce an outage and keep your clients informed?
    If you send out emails, how fast, how often and for what kind of issues?
    Do your clients calm down after they know what's going on?

    Keeping our clients informed and always telling them the truth no matter how bad the problem was has always built more trust. During a really long and bad outage, we were even encouraged by our clients, instead of receiving a flow of cancellations.

    However, I'm still unsure if it's the right thing to send emails for any type of issue and whenever there's an update. I have the feeling that sending too many emails with frequent updates may bug the clients even more.

    I was thinking about having a status page where the client can decide exactly about what issues he wants to receive an email notification and how often. Maybe even something that automatically sends twitter updates to those who follow. Does anyone know a similar script?

    Thanks for your answers!
    Last edited by MH-Stefan; 09-28-2013 at 04:28 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Re: How do you keep your clients informed about server/network issues?

    I use email and social network websites as I know my customers will see it then.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    If we have a scheduled maintenance, we always send a notice via email before 12 hours so that they are aware.

    Also, we publish the network issue on the WHMCS platform.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    UK
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    We have the standard notifications on the server status page but every notification that is created and when it is updated is emailed to all customers on that particular server to keep them informed.

    Any scheduled work is notified 24 hours in advance.

  5. #5
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    Pingdom is good for network status / performance. For the rest Twitter and/or some company status blog.
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  6. #6
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    Jan 2013
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    Twitter. And email and website.

  7. #7
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    Keep your main site on the same server as your customers, so if something does go wrong with network maintenance....your down and your customers are down. Then count those minutes as you hear torches and pitchforks coming to your door.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Germany
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    Thanks for your input so far.

    StarWebHosting: Would you mind sharing what you're using for that? I think that may be what we're looking for if the email notifications are sent automatically.

    I find the WHMCS network status a bit too simple. It lacks automatic email notifications and an opt-in features. It would be great if there was something that allows the clients to select exactly what notifications they want to get (software issues/server issues/network outages/etc.) and how often (when a new issue is posted/when an update is posted/when the issue is resolved). This way we'd be 100% sure that we neither bother the client with too many notifications, nor leave him in the dark. Basically something that satisfies every type of client.
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  9. #9
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    We use the standard WHMCS server status page with a link to Pingdom monitoring but when we open a network issue and email is automatically sent to all account owners that are setup on the particular server. This was a script that we inherited from a previous company purchase.

    The script also notifies account owners when the network issue is updated but there is no option for account owners to specify that they want such notifications. I suppose that you could setup an option for new account signups - do you wish to receive notifications of server downtime or scheduled maintenance etc. etc.

  10. #10
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    Thanks StarWebHosting. Seems like we'll need this stuff custom developed. I'm actually surprised that there's no WHMCS add-on or standalone script for this yet.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by MH-Stefan View Post
    Thanks StarWebHosting. Seems like we'll need this stuff custom developed. I'm actually surprised that there's no WHMCS add-on or standalone script for this yet.
    Depending on your skill level, there are scripts that function similar to pingdom that you could install on either the server with WHMCS, or even a small vps away from all the servers.

  12. #12
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    * Planned and Emergency maintenance posted to the status blog
    * Tweets about any network issues or issues affecting the status blog itself
    * Emails to those with specific types of services if planned maintenance will cause outages
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  13. #13
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    Aug 2013
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    1. Email
    2. Twitter
    3. Blog

  14. #14
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    Sep 2013
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    4
    I see most of the providers use the whmcs server status and announcements to keep clients informed

  15. #15
    We have a mailing list for every one of our servers. A customer can signup for the mailing list(s) for their server(s), if they want to receive such emails.

    Then our admins simply send an email to the list for whatever server is having the issue, and it goes out to all subscribers.

    List archives are available online, and linked to the server status page, so anyone can quickly go to see recent announcements for their server, etc...

    Hope that helps.

    (BTW - we use dadamail for the list management. It works great!)
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  16. #16

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by datarealm View Post
    If email is unavailable during an outage, twitter really does work well to keep people informed.
    If email is unavailable, then you should probably rethink your support system setup.

    The entire support system should be available even if all your web servers are offline. (ie: Host your support system on a different server in a different datacenter.)
    Last edited by mrzippy; 10-03-2013 at 02:58 AM.
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  18. #18
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    In my opinion e-mail notification is always the best. If it's possible to display notifications on a screen before the 'submit a ticket' page, then that's great too. Making a post on a company blog is insufficient--only a small fraction of your customers will ever read the blog.
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  19. #19
    It's also important to keep things simple for the customers. They should be able to go to one place (your website) to get information. They won't forget your website, but they will probably forget your twitter username or facebook user or blog address, etc..

    And why make them go to multiple places, anyway? There is no reason why a good email system wouldn't work and it fulfills all the requirements of a notification/announcements system if implemented correctly.

    - Info is pro-actively sent to the customer (if they are signed up)
    - Info is archived and available to view at any time
    - Info can be easily retrieved and displayed by your other software if they are submitting a helpdesk ticket (for example)
    - Single URL to remember

    I think it depends a lot on your market and the type of people who are your customers, too. If you have technical skilled people as customers, then maybe they'll go to twitter. But our customers (for example) are clueless and can barely remember their own website domain. So when they have a problem, they can only think to go to our own website. From there, they see a big "SERVER STATUS" link, and "HELPDESK" link which will bring them to the support system where they can easily see what is happening during a problem. They can even lookup their server name by entering their domain name into a box, in case they don't remember which one is their server.
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  20. #20
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    We email all our clients in advance.
    And if its an unexpected downtime, we email them immediately.
    Having a page, really does not help as not everyone is actually checking it 24x7.
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  21. #21
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    We have a custom WHMCS hook to email customers on the affected server if a network issue is opened or updated.

    It's only available to our resellers at the moment but I'll see if it's something we can make public.
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  22. #22

    Re: How do you keep your clients informed about server/network issues?

    All of our billing and server stauses are held on seperate servers so if any issues arrise our clients can stay up to date.

    We would email our clients to notify them of an issue or anything that would cause us distress if we were a client. We would also periodically update the clients via email at intervals when we reach a milestone such as diagnosing the issue prepping and deploying the hardware and then of the reboot.

    We would also use our social media chanels to keep clients up to date and once the issue is fully resolved do a write up on the event so the clients can see exactly what was involved during the issue and notify them of any SLA credits they're entitled to.
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