Businesses and organisations in the UK have been given a demonstration of how not to manage a systems failure, by a US banking group which left customers unable to access their accounts for two days earlier in the month.
Sixteen and a half million people bank online with the Chase bank, but serious technical issues took the whole infrastructure offline for 48 hours, resulting in outcry amongst the ranks of users, who need online banking to make their daily activities run smoothly.
Forrester Research’s Brian Walker, said that although many organisations have contingency measures in place to ensure that they can continue to operate in the event of an IT issue, a lack of preparation means that many fail to trial these backup systems and are then left exposed when they are forced to put them into action.
Mr Walker said that the business continuity plans are not only left untried, but they are also unnecessarily complex, making it difficult to implement them. He explained that contacting consumers and explaining issues was key to making sure that customers were not left in the dark and suggested that social networking was the best tool to use in order to spread the word.
Gartner’s Stessa Cohen, pointed out that the downtime suffered by Chase’s online banking service, was actually publicised via Twitter users, rather than through official channels. This increased the level of vexation amongst users as the bank was portrayed as being uncommunicative.
Cohen claims that businesses which harness social media tools and keep in direct contact with users may not find that they are able to deploy disaster recovery planning any quicker, but that they may stifle the ire of customers in the short term.
Mr Walker identified that the negative side of social media usage was that giving out details of a problem would not only alert customers, but also competitors and the press, perhaps increasing the risk of damaging the affected firm’s reputation.
Mr Walker said that businesses simply had to get better at handling disasters and involving customers in the progress of reparations.