Did you know that over 80% of websites have experienced unplanned downtime every year? According to one study, these total blackouts can last four hours each.
A decade ago, it did not have much impact because transactions were not as fast and voluminous, and people were used to waiting until the service would go back up again. Today it is an entirely different story.
Customers cannot tolerate delays or inconsistency in user experience. Therefore, even a tiny blackout or downtime may cause the loss of precious leads and conversions, tarnish a hardly-earned brand reputation, ruin relationships with clients, and decrease revenue.
All respondents have indicated that even a single hour of downtime costs them a bulk of money; these sums are staggering, nearly one million dollars for some big players. To make matters worse, these downtime events are inevitable: equipment goes on the fritz, people make mistakes, software needs to be updated, hosting provider experiences downtime – things just go wrong.
Whatever reliable and professional foundation lies at the core, web platforms are not perfect. Digital businesses face a constant parade of "traumatic" events, such as server malfunctions, incorrect user interactions with the system, unexpected results of a software update, etc.
To handle this endless march, many digital businesses have adopted incident reporting systems on their web platforms.
This solution may sound fancy, sophisticated, and brand new at first; butit has been with us for many years. In real life, it is a crucial part of every healthcare facility. We know it as a formal document that captures, records, and at some point manages details of an event that has caused liability issues stemming from the incident. However, its sphere of usage is giant. Apart from healthcare, it is also a time-proven tool to keep track of things in national aviation, security departments, and the police.
Incident reporting has carved a specific niche by proving its validity and importance during the ages. Therefore, it is no surprise that such a great tool has found its application in the digital world, transferring its qualities to web platforms and opening new opportunities for improvement.
Let us dive a little deeper into incident reporting on the Web, how it is realized through status pages, and how it can take companies' relationships with customers to the next level.
First things first – what is incident reporting on the Web, and what are the reasons and benefits of introducing it to a website.
What Is Incident Reporting on a Website?
Incident reporting is a process during which events that may or may not have caused harm to a website, user experience, or brand equity are recorded, communicated to a specific group of people, and handled.
This process is automatic, thoughsome parts are addressed manually by the support team, development department, or marketing team.
Incident reporting comes in all shapes and sizes. It may display all sorts of information, for instance
- Safety or security incidents,
- Uptime and downtime,
- Environmental observations,
- Flaws in the facility or the work environment,
- Server malfunctions,
- Hosting provider flaws, etc.
In addition, it may include specific details of an event or incident, such as:
- The time and date of the incident.
- Area, department, or vertical where the incident occurred.
- Areas that were affected by the incident.
- A concise yet complete and thorough description of the incident.
- Details about what happened before the incident.
- List of actions taken immediately after the incident.
- List of actions taken during resolution.
- A summary of how severe or minor damages are.
- List of all involved parties, including their contact information and much more.
Depending on the niche, company's ideology and values, target audience's preferences, and standards, the company decides what information to prioritize and display to the clients and departments. As a rule, this information is communicated through so-called public and private status pages.
Why Do You Need Incident Reporting on a Website?
Much like in real life, incident reporting plays a crucial role in maintaining the system's health, enhancing work culture, improving the product, and ensuring the organization's prosperity.
Consider compelling reasons why this tool is vital for business, whether a solopreneur, a small startup, or a big player runs it.
- It gives insights into human error, systems failure, regulatory weaknesses, etc.
- It enables dev departments to identify whether additional support and help are needed to prevent escalation and keep adverse situations from developing into major incidents.
- It enables quantitative analysis, which helps to foresee future incidents and take appropriate actions in time.
- It monitors potential problems and root causes as they recur.
- It encourages employee participation in improving the system, platform, and product, whether it is about quality or security.
- It can save leads and conversions and keep revenue safe.
- It can prolong the life of the product and company.
- It can help the company to maintain its position in the market.
- It is much cheaper than the cost of maintaining incidents.
- It is a standard that is recommended to meet for all businesses.
Benefits of Incident Reporting
Along with compelling reasons that are enough to make businesses take the incident-reporting system seriously, incident reporting comes with some strong advantages. One of which lies in the ability to improve relationships with customers. How?
- It provides much needed transparency in the platform.
- It enhances credibility.
- It increases the trustworthiness of the service.
- It avoids confusion by clarifying obscure situations and providing valuable information in time.
- Finally, it demonstrates a commitment to the system's health and consistent user experience.
These factors level up the company's reputation, make it look like a valuable partner, and create a favorable environment to nurture customers and reinforce relationships.
Improving relationships with customers is not the only significant advantage; incident reporting offers some other profound benefits. For instance,
- It pinpoints areas of improvement in an organization's safety and security program.
- It shows weaknesses of the system, software, third-party programs, and partners, such as hosting and server providers, giving real insights on what to change to ensure the best working condition of the platform.
- It provides essential information to develop a clear, proactive, fact-based security strategy.
- It reinforces the incident management system.
- It builds a better place for users by improving user experience and making interactions with the service, product, platform, and brand consistent.
- It makes the system transparent.
- It enhances the working culture.
- It fights reoccurrences.
- It refines brand reputation.
- Last but not least, it is a cost-effective and time-efficient way to deal with unexpected events that may damage the system and brand's equity.
Flaws of Incident Reporting
Incident reporting is not a flawless solution; it comes with some limitations and obstacles.
For instance, tracking platforms are not made equally. Some of them may offer information with little meaningful value for the dev department to proceed with the incident without any other investigation.
As for the obstacles, the biggest pitfall of incident reporting is how it can be implemented in practice. The core of the problem lies in its complete integration with the platform that tracks the system's health. Another part of this problem is communicating information in a digestible form, so that visitors, clients, and dev teams can quickly understand the situation.
The good thing is, there is a way out. Professional platforms help implement incident reporting and make it suitable for all groups, even for non-tech-savvy entrepreneurs and companies without dev departments. Consider Pulsetic, a website uptime monitoring service that is easily integrated into any website.
It is one of the most popular options among small and mid-sized businesses. It tracks vital elements of the system's health and performance, like response time across the world or uptime. On top of that, it has an intuitive multifunctional generator to create status pages that keep visitors updated.
With Pulsetic, you can overcome this obstacle and quickly enter the game, thereby taking your website to the next level and enjoying the benefits of properly implemented incident reporting.
How Does Incident Reporting Look on a Website?
There are many ways to display information about incidents and scheduled events. You could notify users through email or social media or even send them messages on the telephone. However, for the sake of efficiency and cost-effectiveness, it is highly recommended to use public and private status pages.
Status pages are time-proven solutions adopted by millions of organizations of various scales around the globe. They provide an overall view of the current operational status for passers-by, clients, and fans of the platform in a pleasant and digestible form. They are a crucial element of the incident management framework. Let us take a closer look at them.
What Is a Status Page?
The status page is a regular web page designed to educate online visitors about the system's current health. It covers such crucial information as:
- historical uptime,
- system metrics,
- incident data,
- maintenance calendars,
- hosting provider system's status, and some others.
In short, it is an overall view of the current operational status of the web platform that is available and accessible at any given time. Users can get insight into what is happening behind the curtains any time they want.
Status pages come in three general types: public status page, private status page (also called internal status page), and public SLA.
- The public status page represents components' statuses and incidents, the service's performance timeline, maintenance, incident resolution details, etc.
- The private status page communicates only crucial information about incidents and events with the dev department and some internal teams.
- Public SLA is a page that uncovers public or private summary reports driven by the platform's existing tracking software.
In this trio, the public status page is what helps to build strong and healthy relationships with customers, highlighting the reliability of the platform and increasing the trustworthiness and credibility of the brand.
Benefits of Status Pages
Along with improving relationships with the customers, status pages offer some other great perks to the organizations, for instance:
- They clear up confusion and minimize frustration and mistrust.
- They decrease communication silos and avoid communication crises, thereby letting the dev department focus on the resolution rather than queries.
- They reinforce the incident management process, enabling marketing teams to keep visitors in the loop and save leads and conversions.
- They give a better understanding of how the platform's services are performing, thereby making the service appear transparent.
- They contribute to creating an intuitive service.
- They boost brand identity and enhance the brand's reputation.
- They increase profit by keeping customer retention rates high.
Examples of Status Pages
There are no hard and fast rules for creating status pages. Depending on the company's preferences and target audience's expectations, they can take different forms. Let's consider the three most popular solutions in this niche.
We will start with a minimal approach, suited to startups and SaaS with one product or service, such as Static App.
Static App is a popular hosting solution for small and mid-sized businesses, ideal for serving static pages to the digital crowd.
It comes with numerous beneficial features, such as a personal domain, media storage, SSL certificate, and a handy code editor.
Its operational status is crucial for small and ambitious organizations to move forward. Therefore, it is no surprise that the team has created a status page to educate their clients and regular users about the system's health.
Their status page covers only crucial information, such as uptime for the last 90 days, recent incidents, and incident history. Plus, it provides the optionto sign into the subscription list to get updates through email.
Note the design; the page is in sync with the rest of the website, feeling like an integral part of the environment. This ensures consistency in user experience, which is vital for keeping visitors in the loop and maintaining healthy relationships.
What if you have not one but two, three, or even a dozen products under one roof? Let us consider Apple and its solution to inform their fans about the operational status of every item of their huge, vibrant portfolio.
The status page in Apple features all of their products, from App Store to HomeKit Secure Video to Volume Purchase Program. However, it does not feel messy or confusing. Thanks to a minimal approach and solid organization, all the services are carefully highlighted. Each one has its corresponding operational status represented as a small color-coded circle.
If something is wrong, the incident management team changes the item's status by coloring it in red or blue and sharing concise yet valuable details through the tooltip.
In addition, they have added navigation, a way to contact the support team, and a link to the developer system status page for those who want a detailed report about each issue.
As for design, it matches their homepage and branding, maximizing the general impression of the platform.
Last but not least. Let's take a closer look at a status page with comprehensive system coverage by exploring Segment and its incident reporting solution.
Segment is a professional software to collect, clean, and activate customer data. Although it does not have many products in its portfolio, the team has provided comprehensive coverage of the system's performance. Thus, users can get insight into:
- Uptime over the past 90 days, smartly presented as a color-coded line graph.
- Historical uptime.
- Current operational status of each API, service, and library.
- Essential system metrics, such as API Latency or Destinations end-to-end latency.
- Total delivery rate measured by Google Analytics, Facebook App Events, Amazon Kinesis, and other services.
- List of past incidents
- Subscription form to stay updated through email.
Despite featuring lots of data, the content is easily digestible. This is because of their smart usage of graphs, formatting rules, and whitespace.
On top of that, the design has the same style traits as other web pages on the platform. Therefore, the user experience stays consistent, providing a holistic environment for the visitors.
How to Improve Relationships with Customers through Status Pages and Incident Reporting?
Incident reporting is a crucial part of the incident management process that ensures excellent productivity and high performance. However, it is also a great tool to improve relationships with customers, retain their interest, and keep them in the loop.
As we have already pointed out, the reason for that is simple -status pages, through which incident reporting is implemented in the web platforms, provide much needed transparency that builds trust, increases credibility, and turns regular visitors into brand evangelists.
Plus, it lies at the core of creating customer-centric strategies that, according to professional marketers and successful companies, help elevate the customer experience, drive engagement, build brand awareness, and generate leads and conversions.
So, how can you do that with incident reporting? Follow this basic, yet effective, routine:
1. Find the right solution for you. The Web is teeming with tracking software, from Pulsetic, popular among small and mid-sized businesses, to Atlassian, a favorite of huge conglomerates and big players. To make the right decision, consider such factors as the company's scale, target audience's expectations and preferences, tech awareness, and budget.
2. Add a status website badge. This clever visual cue attracts visitors' attention and instantly provides information about the current operational status of the system. As a rule, it sits at the bottom of the page, right next to the footer navigation. It has a bright color or well-highlighted label to deliver the message immediately. A status website badge is a supporting element; however, it is vital to complete the incident management process.
3. Think through status page content, because it is here where an improvement in the relationships with customers begins. From operational state to SSL certificate to report on new features, you may display all sorts of information here; however, it does not mean you should. The key to success lies in bringing value to visitors. Therefore, make sure your content helps eliminate users' concerns and answers their questions. At a minimum, adopt these best practices:
- Place overall operational status right at the top.
- List crucial products and services with their corresponding operational statuses.
- Notify the user if something goes wrong.
- Inform about scheduled maintenance.
- Add a subscription form to get updates through email.
- Add a way to contact the support team.
- Display uptime for the last 90 days using visual instruments like graphs or charts.
- Give a short description of an incident.
- Share details of the resolution process.
- Showcase stats if it quantifies the brand.
- Boast support team's work if it qualifies the brand.
4. Pay particular attention to the design. Although content is king, do not underestimate the power of good design and its role in creating a great user experience. It can easily break or make everything. Remember, the status page should not live in a vacuum – it is just a regular page on a website, so it should have the same theme and follow the brand guidelines.
At a minimum, it should feature a logotype, brand colors, and typography. It is highly recommended to add main navigation and some extra links to the bottom of the page, so that visitors can find their way or return to the homepage.
The content also needs to be well organized, structured, and formatted to make boring "dry" statistics look pleasant.
5. Maximize user experience and accessibility. These two constituents are crucial in building strong relationships with customers. Not only do they provide a comfortable environment for visitors, but most importantly, they meet the requirements and expectations of the target audience, offering meaningful, valuable, and enjoyable interactions that leave long positive impressions.
6. Minimize customer effort. Usability is a crucial factor in keeping buyers engaged on the platform. Therefore, do not make it difficult for them to find answers to their questions. Add a link to the status page on the homepage and make it vivid right from the get-go.
7. Finally, develop an effective post-incident strategy. It should help to learn from the mistakes, but most importantly, it should help keep customers in the loop and retain those who have decided to leave. Consider these tips:
- Create a framework to sustain and improve the plan.
- Focus on the facts and cover only the main points.
- Clear up all misunderstandings.
- Apologize for the inconvenience.
- Thank clients for waiting and staying with the company through various distribution channels.
- Respond to changing conditions; if necessary, take extra measures. For example, offer additional discounts.
- Learn from mistakes to improve the incident management process.
Website Intelligence Providing an Additional Layer of Insight
More broadly speaking, it is imperative that you are able to maintain a clear overview, at all times, as to how your website is operating - and how your users are interacting with it.
There are numerous less tangible issues that can occur on your website, which can downgrade or even destroy specific user journeys - navigation, conversions, communication etc.
This is not always the result of an outage on your website, but sometimes human error in removing/changing link URLs or unpublishing specific pages; sometimes the result of third-party platforms, such as your CRM or CMS; and sometimes simply a flaw in your content or design.
Put simply, website intelligence is the combination of three main areas of website analytics:
- Performance Statistics - what you would be accustomed to with Google or other such platforms
- User Behavior - a more visual way of understanding how users behave on your website, through heatmaps, session recordings, and event tracking, and
- Visitor Communication - direct communication with your users, through polls, surveys, and in-app/onsite chat
It is this rapidly emerging martech discipline, which - when used correctly and consistently - can enable you to quickly identify flaws on your website or in a specific user flow.
By way of example, if you have recently launched a new campaign, which - due to gated content, registration, or other requests - contains a form, you will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on the conversion rate of your campaign landing page - and subsequently how many leads it is generating.
If you notice that the leads are coming in slightly slower than expected, or ceasing altogether, you can use session recordings to directly investigate how users are interacting with the form element and investigate the cause of any bottleneck. This could, for example, be
- An error in one specific field,
- An unclear or confusing field, or
- An issue with the form provider
By making website intelligence a consistent pillar of your work as a marketing department, you are able to identify such issues much faster.
Another example of how website intelligence can help in such situations is through direct feedback from your users - “this link is not working”, “I’ve tried to complete the form, but receive an error code”. These are all examples of the kind of client communications we dread as marketers, but equally highly value.
It is also prudent for any digital marketing team to begin to map out repetitive valuable user flows/journeys - i.e. the most common pathways users take on your website to navigate to a conversion page/milestone.
By having such user journeys in place, you are able to supercharge your website intelligence by paying closer attention to areas that can create the most impact. You will thus be able to avoid, or at least limit, the impact that small errors/issues can have on your strategy and goals.
Visitor Analytics has gained a strong understanding of these three pillars of website intelligence over the past decade, and has thus created a product and product roadmap that can best address the key pain points and demands of website owners in this area.
Status pages and incident reporting are "dark horses" of digital marketing.
Initially created to display information about current operational statuses and uncover some essential system metrics, they have evolved to meet the target audience's expectations for companies to provide transparency in the platform and answer their questions right here, right now. This lets them offer extra opportunities to take businesses to the next level.
For instance, when well done, status pages can easily improve relationships with customers, which leads to higher conversion rates, better engagement with the brand, higher productivity, revenue growth, and the opening of new horizons for the company's development.
Although grabbing this opportunity is tricky, it is possible. Find the right tracking solution that satisfies your demands, follow the best practices, create a plan of action that resonates with your target audience, and amplify marketing and retention campaigns.