Guest blog post submitted by Murtaza Jaffer, EBC Printing
There is a lot to be learned from Target, which recently underwent a huge register outage that caused the company to lose out on nearly 100 million dollars in sales over a two day period.
On a Saturday afternoon, for roughly two hours, Target cash registers across the country stopped working, preventing customers from making purchases in stores. The next day, a similar outage occurred, causing registers to go down for 90 minutes. The problem, they said, was not caused by Target's software but by a third-party who provides their POS system.
Disgruntled customers, who were not notified of the issue until they got in line to checkout, left the store and shared their dissatisfaction across social media.
This is a prime example of how businesses are largely impacted by business downtime. Not only does it affect the hard sales from customers unable to make their purchases, but also lost productivity of employees standing around unable to work, brand damage, and data loss.
Downtime can cause more than an inconvenience, it could drive a company out of business all together; especially the smaller businesses who have less money to gamble with. In fact, according to the 2016 Cost of Data Center Outages report, unplanned downtime costs $8,851 per minute, up from $7,908 in 2013.
So what can we learn from Target's recent mishap?
• Don't panic if an issue occurs! Document everything and work towards a solution.
• Know who to contact if technology fails.
• Notify customers of the issue right away. Be upfront with what's going on and provide a timetable for fixing the problem (but don't lie if you are not sure!) Apologize and sympathize!
• Offer coupons, snacks, beverages to customers for the inconvenience.
• Once the problem is resolved, examine your system for internal and external weaknesses and find out where the problem originated. (Did someone trip over a power cord or was it a more widespread failure?)
• Moving forward, monitor your IT system so that you know about an issue before your customer does.
• If you are using a lower-grade hardware system, upgrade to an enterprise-level network infrastructure. Higher grade equipment helps maintain reliability so that productivity will not be lost.
• Have a Plan B/backup system in place, as well as a backup power supply in case weather is the culprit. Businesses can invest in an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). A UPS provides backup battery power to your IT systems which kicks in the moment regular power goes offline. Through a UPS, any loss of power will immediately transfer to the battery supply, without any noticeable interruption from the user.
• Consider using a cloud server, which are housed in colocation centers. They are more convenient and reliable due to their easy accessibility, but they’re also safer since they create automatic backups to prevent in data loss for the client.
Follow these tips and don't let downtime take your business down!