While this hasn’t yet happened, technological issues can still be extremely detrimental to an unprepared company’s reputation. Take HSBC for example, whose customer satisfaction and loyalty took a major blow when IT difficulties restricted their seventeen million account-holders from accessing their accounts online, leading to a loud backlash from disgruntled consumers (me included).
However, HSBC is just one name on a long list of companies whose technology has seriously affected their brand. NatWest, RBS, Co-Op Energy and even the UK Government have suffered at the hands of faulty tech, and a quick browse of their Twitter feeds will show you just how strongly customers feel about such faults.
A decade or two ago, IT was largely implemented behind the scenes. But it is now front and centre – and is increasingly about delivery and user experience. With the ascension of apps and mobile technology, IT is crucial to a brand’s vision and represents the company at large. Failing to understand the importance of usability and implementing quality IT processes can pose a serious threat. NatWest learnt this lesson the hard way: as quickly as their customer payments disappeared, so too did a bulk of their brand reputation and integrity. Or take Co-Op Energy, which topped a list of the highest number of consumer complaints almost entirely due to the fact that, ironically, their IT systems just did not co-operate.
But how can a company or government protect its reputation from the dangers of wayward technology? Businesses must adopt and be rigorous with their risk-based testing and think carefully before giving the green light for technology to go live. Consumers, more now than ever, have readily available streams to voice their opinions. Social media, in particular Twitter, can be considered the modern day town-centre stocks, and if a company or government is lazy with its tech, they should expect 140 character rotten tomatoes. Although where will society vent its frustrations when even Twitter’s IT, as seen last week, fails them?
There was a time when a firm such as HSBC could offer the IT team as a sacrificial lamb to the media. But this time has long passed as a business’s IT processes are now intrinsically linked to customer experience and therefore its brand as a whole. Pointing at – and blaming – technology is no longer an excuse. Machines may not have beckoned Armageddon, but a company’s reputation is as good as dead without the right technology processes in place.