What is an incident, how to handle it, and tips for good incident management


Customer retention is critical. Studies show that acquiring a new customer is five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. On top of this, a marginal increase in customer retention can yield increases in revenue up to 95%.

Customers spend a lot of time interacting with businesses online and their user experience can have a major impact on how they view a company. One bad user experience can send a customer into the arms of a company's competitor. To retain these customers, companies adjust their business models to deliver seamless end-user experiences.

However, even in the most well-prepared organizations, issues, also known as incidents, are inevitable; they adversely affect business operations and outcomes. A quick response to incidents is the key to mitigating operational risks and delivering a world-class end-user experience.

As incident management is a crucial support process, companies need an efficient tool to identify issues. For instance, be it planned maintenance or an unplanned outage, you must inform your stakeholders and customers about outages before they're impacted.

This blog will give insights into what an incident is, how to handle incidents, and tips for best incident management.

What is an incident?

As the name implies, an incident is a sudden or unexpected disruption in a service. The incident management teams are responsible for immediately responding to issues, finding solutions, and communicating the progress in rectifying issues to internal teams and customers. These procedures and steps are called incident management.

A business without incident management procedures in place may face increased support tickets due to downtime, breaches of SLAs, and more.

Process of incident management

Incident management teams generally follow these five steps when addressing incidents.

Identification: Find incidents by generating reports, performing simulations, or running manual tests. You can then determine how to handle the incident by logging it, carrying out further investigation, and categorizing it.

Notification: The incident management team escalates the issue and assigns it to a team member based on the severity of the issue and the skillset of the team member. Meanwhile, the incident management team notifies customers, stakeholders, and the required authorities.

Investigation: The team begins to analyze the incident by finding its type, root cause, and restoration solutions.

Resolution: This process involves eliminating the cause of the incident and restoring affected services. For instance, a malware infection requires isolation of the infected components, a clean copy of your systems, and additional security measures to prevent any major threat in the future.

Postmortem: Record and document the steps to fix the incident, identify areas that can be improved, and determine what corrective measures can be taken to prevent this type of incident in the future.

Tips for good incident management

1. Proactive monitoring

Incident management teams should have robust workflows for handling incidents. Performing regular simulation tests gives you insights into the performance of applications and internet services and helps with preparing action items beforehand. This helps with responding to incidents and recovering quickly.

2. Upfront communication

On-time communication serves as a bridge between your company and its prospects. A clear communication plan prepares you to deal with the incident. For every incident, inform your stakeholders of the progress, reason, and tentative time for things to return to normal.

3. The right tools and training

Implementing a dynamic work process to restore a function that goes down is key. Classify your incident management team into different sub-teams and provide them adequate training by mapping their responsibilities and the company's requirements. This helps prepare you to overcome any unprecedented challenge, anytime, anywhere.

4. Handy templates

When an incident occurs, the help desk often receives loads of tickets raised by the users reporting the same issue. During times like these, emails may not be effective, as customers tend to overlook them. A simple way to communicate outage is using the ALERT approach.

A - Which Application is at fault, and what is the issue?

L - In which Location does the issue exist?

E - Is the Event scheduled or unexpected?

R - What's the time line to Resolve the incident?

T - Who can users Talk to?

5. Improvised knowledge base 

Regardless of the severity, every incident requires immediate attention, proper communication, and an appropriate solution. It's also important that there is transparency to your internal and external audiences. 

Collaborate - Have regular team huddles and discuss the progress of the incident. Ensure your incident management team is on track with the status of the incident. 

Streamline - A strategic problem-resolving plan removes confusion, paving the way for an uninterrupted action plan.

Inform - Throughout the incident management life cycle, you must send notifications, announcements, and status updates to your internal and external audiences. This helps in earning their trust and deflecting unnecessary support tickets. 

Every step in handling an incident comes with a learning curve, and adhering to these best practices will help your business handle incidents confidently.

With StatusIQ, you can effectively communicate service disruptions, scheduled maintenance, and real-time updates to your customers and end users. New to StatusIQ? Learn how it offers a great customer experience and business transparency.

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