Imagine you own an ISP, such as Time Warner Cable, that occasionally has outages. Ideally, you’d never have outages, but since you might be Time Warner Cable, you have outages, like the one I experienced in my second week of living in my new place (where we don’t get AT&T Uverse, unfortunately). 

Now, you realize that if you have an outage that you are going to get bombarded with phone calls, emails (from mobile devices that still have service), and tweets about the problem. This costs money for customer service reps (not to mention stress) and frustrates customers because they will have even longer wait times than the normally frustrating wait times. 

So, what is one way to try to ease the frustration on both ends? Alert your customers that there is an outage–simply a text message to their phone number on file–and let them know there is a problem and that you’re trying to fix it. This differs from the current status quo because right now ISPs (at least TWC) expect the customer to check on the service status via an app or a website where they must be logged into their account.

Flip the communication stream and be proactive by alerting your customers. This will let some of them know not to worry about calling customer service because there is an obvious problem, it will relieve the call center of unnecessary calls, and it will save your site on bandwidth from a bunch of people checking service status. Then let them know the service is back up with another text message once service is restored. 

I’m borrowing the term “Service Design” from Patrick Quattlebaum and possibly abusing it here. Nonetheless, I think this simple idea is a great example of a small feature that can be added to improve a service’s customer experience. If you know anyone important an ISP (especially TWC)–pitch this idea to them!