Avoiding Downtime Disasters
In the modern world, a business relationships on their website, internet access and phone systems to maintain effective communications with the outside world. As a result, it can feel like disaster has stuck when something goes wrong and the systems are down.
In every minute that ticks by, you are actually aware of the interactions that are not taking place. Your thoughts are with that customer that you promised to call back, the invoice that you said would be paid first thing and the orders which are not being made.
The issue is equally frustrating to those on the outside; a customer who needs to place an order, the supplier that wants to check a delivery date, or the associate who is trying to get a date in the diary. The situation may be out of your control, but unless you have found a way to let others know, they will be blaming you.
The Effect of Downtime
Downtime is such a big deal because it affects user confidence and brand reputation. It lowers customer satisfaction levels, so even loyal customers can start to consider alternative suppliers. It can also have a negative effect on the position of your web pages in the search engine rank.
For some businesses, downtime can have an almost immediate impact on sales, but for any company it can reduce profitability. A one-off issue can be managed and forgotten, but a re-occurring problem is often detrimental to a business.
Causes of Downtime
There are a number of reasons why your website and phones may suddenly be out of action.
• Planned Downtime
In the best scenario, it could be planned. Temporary down time is sometimes necessary in order to implement upgrades or integrate several systems. In this case you should have had time to prepare, to inform and to get an idea of when full service is likely to be resumed. This makes the problem manageable.
• User Error
Whether accidental or intentional, human actions can cause a system to go down. In the case of human error the issue could have been straight forward to rectify, however hackers come into this category and malicious content and deliberate damage could have taken longer to resolve.
• System Failure
Faults in the hardware, software defects and viruses can be responsible for a crash. A systems engineer would need to firstly diagnose the problem and then fix it. This could be a simple or complex process.
• Major Incident
A fire in your building, a flood or other natural disaster could completely destroy your system and lead to permanent downtime. Whilst this is the most detrimental effect, it is likely that the situation results in the downtime being a less pressing issue.
Reducing the Risk of Downtime
Little can be done to change planned downtime or natural disasters, so the focus is on avoiding user error and system failure.
• User Error
Regular security updates are also essential on any system. They help to protect data and intellectual property, as well as reducing the risk of malicious users finding a way in.
• System Failure
Outdated systems may no longer be fit to deal with the current demands of your business and this can cause them to go down. Regular updates to software and where necessary hardware can reduce the risk of systems failure.
Telephone Systems Maintenance
A telephone systems maintenance contract will ensure that when something does go wrong, the right people are quickly on hand to resolve the problem and restore anything that may have been lost.
In addition to this the telephone systems maintenance contract can be seen as a proactive service. It focuses on preventing issues and ensuring that your business has a specialist contact for advice and upgrades (security, software and hardware).
Although the contract does require an on-going payment, this can be seen as insurance against down time. A regular monthly charge is far easier for any business to cover than a large and unexpected bill. When weighed up against all the potential losses should downtime occur, it may be viewed as a valuable investment.