Recent weeks have seen a number of service outages affecting thousands, if not millions, of consumers. NatWest was the first to suffer technical difficulties which at first seemed unexplained, and worse still, left people unable to access money at probably the most desperate time of the month – pay day.

Unable to provide an instant fix, timely and concise communication was crucial in order to avoid disenfranchising their customers. O2 followed suit, after significant disruption to the mobile service provider’s network coverage occurred without warning.

Keep it short and tweet

Both companies have turned to Twitter in their times of crisis; and consumers responded well to short messages and updates, despite the anticipated and inevitable frustrations. During periods when service was down and there was a lack of clarity surrounding what had actually caused the problem, both organisations met customer demand for instant and continuous communication. Keeping hold of customers nowadays requires a great deal of honesty. They want to know when full service is likely to resume and how they are going to be compensated.

Talkin’ bout our reputation

Social media channels are fast becoming known as the way to a company’s heart, especially when seeking their attention on a personal level. Consumer emails sent to a generic ‘customer service’ email address never attract much response, but social media allows consumers to tell the organisation in question how great or how terrible their service is, in ‘earshot’ of fellow consumers. Keen to prove customer comments right or wrong, businesses are finding they must invest more time and effort into responding directly to those who have voiced an opinion.

Quick response

The moral of the story applies to any incident that has the potential to damage an organisation’s reputation; a quick response will minimise the impact. Companies are given credit for how they deal with significant disruption, because this is much more visible than any measures they may previously have put in place to prevent incidents occurring. The more eyes and ears an organisation engages with, the more support it has in reducing the long term effect of an incident. Good communication is crucial to achieving this, as the aforementioned firms have demonstrated.