Scheduled maintenance vs. emergency maintenance


A few days ago, one of the vendors we use posted a rather curious statement to their blog. They said that their network provider would be performing “emergency maintenance” later that week, and service might be affected for a brief period. This strikes me as a bit odd: if you’re telling customers about the situation several days in advance, why describe it as an “emergency”?

Granted, it’s always ideal to give people as much notice as possible prior to any scheduled maintenance or other service interruption. But don’t get overly dramatic about it. As a rule, if you can tell your customers about a maintenance window at least 24-48 hours before it impacts them, you should probably avoid terms like “emergency” or “critical” or “last minute”.

While you may choose to apologize for not providing more lead time, it’s best to reserve the “emergency” status for issues that arise without any advance warning. Otherwise, customers will interpret the regular “emergencies” as a sign that you’re disorganized and unprepared — even when you’re doing a superb job of keeping them up to date on the issues that impact them.