Crashing websites have been a common impediment for U.S. consumers from the very beginning of COVID-19.
According to a study conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS), 46% of respondents have suffered a website crash when trying to pay their bills during self-isolation. Nearly four in 10 (39%) experienced the same thing when ordering goods online, while 29% had it happen when filing for unemployment.
That’s just the start. Consumers had an average of six technology-related problems since the pandemic forced them into self-isolation. This didn’t sit well with the masses, with 70% admitting they’re easily frustrated when faced with tech troubles.
Consumers’ frustration with service disruptions was on full display during pandemic lockdowns, sending a clear message to providers: Their actions, or lack thereof, have consequences.
Heightened reliance on digital services leads to swift action over unavailability
The use of digital services more than doubled on average during COVID-19. Seventy-five percent of Americans acknowledged this was a wake-up call for how reliant they are on technology.
The drawback, however, is that when digital services aren’t available, consumers’ everyday lives become more challenging. Three-quarters of those surveyed admitted they’ve struggled to maintain their normal life due to technical difficulties during the pandemic.
As a result, consumers weren’t afraid to make changes when presented with these setbacks. Fifty-five percent revealed they swapped service providers or adjusted service levels during the pandemic because of tech difficulties. Another 41% plan to take similar action when the pandemic is over.
Organizations that don’t wish to find themselves in this position must make sure their consumers can access the services they provide regardless of the disruption.
Steps to make resilience a greater priority
Now, more than ever, businesses must place a greater emphasis on the state of operational resilience within their organization.
This starts at the top. Review your entire business continuity (BC) program, measuring it against best practices and incorporating any lessons learned during the pandemic, from workforce availability to cybersecurity demands. Create a working group to improve key business resilience disciplines. That way you’ll have a well-rounded program that can be called into action regardless of the disaster.
Aside from evaluating your own business resilience, take a close look at all your vendors and partners to verify their BC capabilities. Even if your own company is secure and has a strong plan, that doesn’t mean your vendors do, and any outages they experience could cause disruption to you and your customers.
Think too about concentration risk, both within your own company and among your vendors. If your vendors are geographically concentrated, and all the employees that perform the same function all work out of the same office, you should consider dispersing and adding geographic diversity. When facing a disaster, you can’t afford to have all your eggs in one basket.
Cybersecurity should also be top of mind with so many employees working from home. Some 21% of consumers admitted to experiencing a cyberattack, hack or data breach during lockdown, which can put your organization at risk depending on what devices they’ve been using for work. Confirm that your networks are segmented and monitored, and that employees on the VPN are using multi-factor authentication (MFA) and are informed about recent security concerns.
Don’t forget to test often and with rigor. You need to make sure your disaster recovery (DR) program is in sync with your production environment. By sticking to a regular testing schedule, you can identify any gaps and make updates and alterations as needed.
Consumers’ use of digital services is up – and it’s here to stay
Consumers used digital services at rates never seen before the pandemic. And according to them, that level of usage isn’t going to change. Seven in 10 respondents said they’re likely to continue using the new digital services they adopted during self-isolation once the pandemic is over.
But they expect these services to be made available to them without disruption. And they’re keeping score, as nearly half said they’d stop buying from companies solely based on how they handled the pandemic.
If this doesn’t point to a greater need for resilience, we don’t know what else does.
Interested in the full findings from the research? Download them now.