Let’s say you’ve already created an app and uploaded it to the app store. Let’s also say it’s doing pretty well and you have yourself a sizable audience. Things are going great.
Then, the unthinkable happens. You release a seemingly innocuous update for your app, and suddenly you’re getting an influx of complaints from customers telling you that your app is acting strangely, crashing, or is just plain broke.
So, when something blows up in your face and your customers are angrily awaiting your response, what do you do? Quite simply, you need to keep your customers from leaving you, and explain what happened without hurting your image. Essentially, you need to do some damage control.
Here’s some important tips on how to communicate to your customers during technical issues:
If your customers are experiencing issues, ask them about the steps they took before the issue occurred. Ask them about when it started occurring, and if anything in particular seems to trigger the issue. The more info you have on the problem, the quicker you’ll be able to fix it.
Let people know exactly what happened, and what you’re doing to fix it. There’s no sense in being vague or trying to hide the truth. Besides, if you have enough customers, one of them will be smart enough to figure it out anyway. What you don’t want is to be caught doctoring the facts, and have one of your customers spread the word that you’re not being honest with your audience.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to get specific. If a server went down, don’t just say, “the server went down.” Tell them why. Was is a mechanical failure? Was is a RAID failure? Was it a power outage? The more details you give, the better your customers will understand what went wrong.
Give people real-time updates
Don’t just say the issue will be fixed in ‘x amount’ of hours. Let your customers know you’ll be posting regular updates, either on your blog or on one of your social media outlets. Try to give an update at least once every hour, but more often if possible.
In each update, give customers details on the problem, specific steps you’re taking to fix it, and any notable progress you’ve made. Update the ETA as well with each entry.
Under promise, over deliver
It’s better to overestimate how much time it’ll take to fix an issue, rather than trying to calm angry users by simply saying something like ‘soon.’
By overestimating the estimated time of repair (ETR), you not only allow yourself more wriggle room if the problem persists longer than expected, but if you fix the issue before your ETR, your customers will be pleasantly surprised.
Send out a post-mortem
After it’s all over, let people know exactly what happened. Once again, don’t be afraid to get technical. Describe the exact steps that led to the issue, how the issue affected customers, how you identified it, how you fixed it, and, most importantly, the steps you’re taking to make sure similar issues don’t arise again.
During the whole process, it’s very important to stay calm and let customers vent. Let them know you understand their frustration, and be genuinely apologetic. Just be sure to keep your cool. Some people might be pretty upset, but lashing out at angry customers won’t solve anything, and will only get you bad PR.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to face major bugs or crashes when it comes to your app, but if you do, it’s always good to be prepared.