5 simple ways that are proven to improve communication between users and IT

Abbie-Lee Hollister
January 28, 2019 12:30 PM

There are a hundred things that go through your head when systems run into trouble. Can it be fixed? Is it business critical? How many people are affected? 

On top of that, you’ve got a tsunami of panicked users contacting you to find out what’s going on. It’s frustrating to your team, and takes your focus away from fixing the problem at hand - it's time to improve communication between users and your IT team.


1. Tell everyone quickly - even if you don’t quite know what’s going on yet

You should always try to let users know there is an incident as soon as possible. Outdated, inefficient sign-off processes sometimes mean that incidents are often solved before users hear about it. → Click to Tweet. Your users will appreciate that you've let them know there is an issue but equally, you won't recieve a wave of emails or tickets all raising the same query. 


Let users know that there is an incident as soon as possible, even if you don't know the cause of the issue or a timeframe to fix it. 


Giving someone ownership over communicating with users when an incident arises helps to get the message out quickly - so make sure you assign a team member to be responsbility for hitting send on the notifications.   


2. Target communications to the right people rather than hitting 'send to all' 

There’s no point causing worry when an issue won’t affect people, and no point giving an excuse to down tools unnecessarily either. 


To limit notification noise and fatigue, stop hitting 'all staff' on your emails and only send alerts to the relevant users.


Receiving notifications that aren't relevant to you can cause alert fatigue, your users start to ignore them or even worse, they set up a forward on their emails to go straight to junk. Be specific with your communications to avoid confusing users, or giving them a reason to start ignoring your emails, and provide better service. → Click to Tweet.


3. Tell them when to expect the next update

With predictable, consistent milestones in place, you let users plan their time accordingly. Even if your next update is just to explain that you’re still investigating the issue, keep people informed.

4. Be concise and visual when 

Using a RAG colour system is intuitive for everyone, especially skim-readers. If you have a centralised page for reporting on active incidents, ensure that major incidents and crises are in red and bold, minor incidents in amber and resolved issues in green.


As we live in a visual culture, it’s important for incidents to be easily readable and understood.


As well as colour coding your incident status page - make good use of your headers and subject lines too - people often won’t read more than this. It's important to be clear and free from technical jargon too!


5. Give people a centralised place to go to stay updated

Updating a central hub or status page is a lot easier than updating dozens of individuals. Let people know that they have a port of call for all information that relates to incidents. 


Want to learn more? Check out this collection of incident planning articles.