Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.
Can your business afford the risk of service disruptions and brand damage? Strategies to mitigate the impact and find reliable IT support.
Every business owner tries their hardest to establish a good name. It takes years of effort to achieve this. You would invest a lot of money and plan for your brand's success so people can positively imprint your brand on their minds.
But sometimes, a single service disruption can damage everything a company tried so hard to build.
They often have far-reaching consequences, especially for smaller brands. With today's instant information, a single tweet can ruin one's reputation. The negative brand perception because of that incident can affect your customer loyalty and gut your revenue, putting you at risk.
This post will explore how service disruptions affect your brand and provide strategies to minimize their impact. It may help you avoid them as much as possible and work on recovering your losses in case it happens. If you need the best IT support for your organization, it will also give you a few tips on looking for one.
1. What are service disruptions?
Today's business world is multi-faceted. For example, you can have a brick-and-mortar store while at the same time operating an outlet online. The latter has become particularly popular. And yet, it suffers the most from service disruptions.
A service disruption is a disturbance in delivering your products and services for various reasons.
Your products and services may be unavailable due to a power outage, system failures, or a lack of workforce due to sickness. This can affect your operations, including customer service, product delivery, payment processing, and website functionality.
2. Different types of service disruptions
We can broadly categorize the possible interferences in service delivery into planned and unplanned disruptions.
- Planned service disruptions: These are scheduled-in-advance disturbances such as system upgrades or maintenance. This can sometimes be rotational power and water interruption because of severe weather, affecting many physical establishments. These disruptions are more manageable since you can communicate them to customers beforehand. That way, they'll know what to expect. Also, because you know what will happen, you can plan for alternative services or solutions to minimize their impact on your business.
- Unplanned service disruptions: These refer to disruptions that happen unexpectedly. They are more challenging to manage since they can occur at any time. They can also be stressful since immediate action is needed to address the issue. Unplanned service disruptions can be sudden technical glitches, system failures, natural disasters, and cyber-attacks.
There's no reason your company shouldn't prepare for planned service disruptions.
However, for unplanned service disruptions, you must have a contingency plan that everyone on your team must know. Even if they're hard to predict, you must expect they can happen to you anytime. In this light, having one contingency plan or more will work to your advantage.
3. Other types of common service disruptions
Here are other types of service disruptions that can be planned or unplanned:
- Human error: Your team members can sometimes make costly mistakes. It's fair to anticipate this, though it may be avoidable with proper training. But there are times when the error is deliberate—for example, a disgruntled team member who planned to sabotage your company out of revenge.
- Third-party service provider issue: This disruption may be out of your control since it can cover a vast range of services. Some examples are cloud provider outages, payment processing failures, shipping or logistics partner failures, and social media platform issues.
When your team conducts a risk assessment, you must be able to identify the disruptions that can occur in your business and have a contingency plan for each.
4. How do they impact your business?
Here are the various ways service disruptions can affect your brand:
1. Negative brand perception
An interrupted service can frustrate your customers, even angering them at times.
Imagine this scenario. Your customer wanted to buy a nice pair of sparkly stilettos for a wedding she'll attend in two weeks. But she can't complete the purchase from your website because of a lingering technical glitch, and she's been trying multiple times.
She can do two things.
The first is to go to your competitor to buy there, and the second is to tweet about her disappointment. Or she can do both. Now, if this customer has a massive following, your brand reputation takes a hit.
Negative word-of-mouth can impact people's perception of your brand. Of course, you can bounce back from this, but sometimes it will take a massive PR fix. This is more so when the tweet gains traction and earns many comments and reactions.
In the past, you could ride it out because bad publicity is still publicity. But that's not the case in today's fast-paced digital environment anymore. So as much as possible, directly address such feedback and provide possible solutions.
2. Decreased customer loyalty
When customers experience interrupted services can erode their trust and loyalty to your brand, and they may shift to your competition. This is common in digital services like movie streaming, gaming, and internet and cable services.
These services are expected to be running smoothly at all times. This is because they're crucial to people's personal and professional lives. The Internet, for example, plays a massive role in operating many businesses. Suppose an Internet provider ends up costing their customers revenue. In that case, they'll turn to a more reliable service that ensures their operations won't be at risk.
On the other hand, movie streaming sites and gaming services are what people turn to when they need a break. So they'll naturally look for better alternatives if they can't do this because of a service disruption.
If this happens to your business, you can recover from the bad experience by offering your clients compensation, such as discount vouchers or a waived monthly subscription. This will make them reconsider transferring and reestablish your commitment to providing the best service. This will also help rebuild their trust and loyalty to your brand.
3. Lost revenue
When your customers can't access your products and services, it will naturally result in a loss of revenue. Moreover, you won't be able to offer other products for them, which is a massive loss of opportunity.
Also, if potential investors see this, you might lose financial backing. Your current investors may also consider pulling out their money if unsatisfied with your brand promise. They can easily perceive regular service disruptions as an underlying factor of a bigger problem with your company.
4. Increased customer service demands
When you have interrupted services, customer queries and complaints pile up. If you lack sufficient resources to handle this, a massive backlog of issues needing to be addressed can arise.
This can harm your brand image. Your customers might get frustrated and turn to social media to air their disappointment. Turning a blind eye to the issue at hand can be misconstrued if there is even a slight delay in response.
If you feel that your current staff can't handle the heavy load of calls and emails, you might need to add personnel to manage this better. However, this can increase your operational costs as you must train them before assigning them the responsibility. Turning to AI-powered solutions is your best bet.
5. Increased operational expenses
The compensation you'll offer your customers, the cost of alternative services, the overtime pay for employees working to address the situation, and the training for specialized staff all weigh down your cash flow. This can impact your profitability and ability to invest in growth initiatives or product development. This is why it's essential to budget for these unexpected events.
6. Impact employee morale
Employees may feel overwhelmed by the workload they need to do to address the service disruption. As a result, it can affect their productivity, efficiency, engagement, and retention. When this frequently happens, it might even result in absenteeism and resignations.
It would help if you did something to boost their morale and improve job satisfaction. That can mean adding an extra budget to compensate them for their work.
5. How can you avoid service disruptions?
While it's impossible to avoid service disruptions altogether, you can mitigate the damage they cause by doing the following:
- Conduct regular maintenance and upgrades.
- Implement cyber-security measures.
- Develop contingency plans.
- Provide comprehensive team member training.
- Have a monitoring system in place.
- Communicate with customers.
These strategies minimize the impact of service disruptions, allowing you to maintain a high level of customer service.
6. Tips on finding the best IT support
IT support is critical to any physical and digital business's success. It ensures all tech systems, applications, and devices function correctly and efficiently.
Here are some tips on finding the best one for your company:
- First, determine your needs.
- Research IT support providers.
- Check references and reviews.
- Evaluate the services offered.
- Consider cost and value.
- Assess communication and responsiveness.
Take the time to find the right provider, and don't rush the process. Remember, these people will be your saving grace when the time comes.
Don't let service disruptions affect your business. You have worked so hard to build a good name, after all. You can address them with the right approach and tried-and-tested strategies.
But, more importantly, with a reputable, skilled, and professional IT service provider, the probability of them happening to you can be significantly lower. As a result, hiring one could be the best decision you'll make for your business.
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