Incident Severity Levels (Sev1, Sev2, Sev3) Take on New Meaning in Customer Experience
Incident management is the term used to refer to what’s happening when your IT team monitors for unexpected hardware, software, and security failings, immediately addresses any discovered issues, and returns services to normal after any disruption. Practicing incident management is all about delivering a great customer experience (CX). When issues occur in critical CX technology in the contact center, severity levels (Sev1, Sev2, Sev3) are often escalated to the highest priorities in IT, and to executive management. Why? Because when customers can’t accomplish their goals, it directly and negatively impacts your business.
Customer Experience Incident Severity Level Definitions
Let’s define what we mean by incident severity levels for contact center CX quality. There are four levels of incident severity related to the contact center, and each level impacts the experience you deliver to your customers. These levels are Sev1, Sev2, Sev3, and non-production defect. Sev1 is the most serious level, while non-production is the most mild.
Sev1 Critical System Down
A Sev1 defect is a production outage. This occurs when the production system has ceased to operate, and there is no workaround. There are several different ways that a contact center can experience a Sev1 outage. One example is an error in the Interactive Voice Response (IVR), such as a prompt failing to load, that prevents callers from being able to complete tasks within the IVR. The result from an issue like this is a significant number of additional calls getting through to the agents. The errors can also involve agent systems, such as CRM system failures. When this occurs, agents can’t access customer records or help them with their requests. These situations frustrate customers and decrease brand loyalty. Any Sev1 defect impacts customers and, ultimately, your business.
Sev2 Significant Impact
Sev2 defects are errors that affect production, but are labeled Sev2 because workarounds are possible. A Sev2 incident, compared to a Sev1, is not a complete outage, but still affects the customer experience. For example, the Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) might misroute calls, forcing agents to manually transfer calls, which takes more of the customer’s time and affects customer experience.
Sev3 Minor Impact
Sev3 defects also impact production systems. In Sev3 situations, customers and agents are able to accomplish tasks, but experience nuisances and inconveniences. An example of a Sev3 incident for a call is when audio quality is poor, requiring the customer and agent to repeat themselves. In terms of CX, these aren’t critical, but represent the CX equivalent of death by a thousand paper cuts, frustrating both your agents and customers, and damaging your brand.
Non-production defects are those found before systems are put into production. An example of a non-production issue would be if your CX assurance technology discovered a Disaster Recovery failure during a load test. Since the defect is not in production, customers have not been affected. Keeping defects out of the production environment is critical to providing your customers with flawless CX.
It is important for organizations to minimize the risk of these different levels of disasters. Each level provides its own challenges financially and to company resources. Not only will it cost the company time and money to fix the issue, but it can cost them customers as well.
CX Assurance Systems Must Integrate with Incident Management Systems
Customer experience is strategic, and CX assurance systems that support customer interactions are critical operations. Any level of incident severity negatively impacts your customers’ CX, so it is important that CX assurance systems fit within existing ecosystems, such as Agile and DevOps toolchains. CX assurance systems with built-in integrations to incident management and other IT systems enable CX data to be passed to systems and processes that IT uses. Such systems handle alerts, escalation, ticketing, and resolution. Sharing CX data across previously disconnected systems eliminates duplicative work and optimizes workflows for enterprise teams to respond to customer-impacting issues.
CX assurance systems that integrate with existing ecosystems enable productivity through automation, reduce costs by streamlining ticketing and support, and increase quality by facilitating rapid response and reducing mean time to repair (MTTR). Learn more about Cyara’s Automated CX Assurance Platform integrations.
Real-World Example of a Customer Experience Sev1 Incident
To illustrate the seriousness and impact of a Sev1 incident, a Cyara customer and US-based retail giant experienced one of these critical issues on Black Friday — one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Credit cards stopped processing on both the retailer’s website and in the contact center. Armed with detailed information from Cyara’s Pulse monitoring product — recordings, the URL and the numbers being called the retailer was able to identify and remedy the issues in two minutes. The development teams discovered that the source of the Sev1 incident was from a third-party credit card processor connection and the issue was quickly resolved. The impact to revenue could have been far greater had the issue gone undetected, and lost revenue is just one of the possible costs that Sev1 incidents like this one can incur. The retailer’s brand, reputation, and customer loyalty were all at stake. For even more Sev1 incident context, read the full Customer Story.