One of the most formidable incidents a small, medium or global enterprise can face is a digital outage of its service. These outages can come in many different forms, some as simple as a button to connect customers with the sales team breaking or entire web pages crashing. In either case, they can cause frustration for existing or potential new customers or even land your company in a headline like what happened to Slack in early 2021.

Unlike many problems brick-and-mortar stores can anticipate such as an awning starting to droop before outright failure, these faults can happen as a result of hacks or unexpected issues occurring within the millions of lines of code that support most modern-day digital products. Knowing that even some of the top digital service vendors such as Slack can be affected by these breaks, SMBs just starting to build their online offering may be confused and worried about how to select the right vendor that will get them back up and running in the event of a similar crash. While global players might have built up a reputation that can help buffer incidents like these, any downtime for a small or medium business just starting a positive growth trajectory can be majorly affected.

The Required Complexity Of Modern Enterprise Digital Presence

Fifty percent of consumers believe a company’s web design is important to their overall brand, making a well-executed digital presence more than just a nice to have for enterprises operating on a regional or global scale. Beyond good design, functionality and reliability are critical to keeping customers returning. Deloitte reported that with a 0.1s improvement in speed, retail customers spent nearly 10% more, while online shopping and lead generation improved by 7%.

To become and stay competitive in any vertical, both SMBs and global enterprises need to dedicate resources to ensuring they have a competitive digital presence that matches their product’s competitiveness in the market. It’s no longer enough to just have a better product—your company’s digital brand needs to meet or exceed the competitiveness of your product to attract and secure customers. Beyond the design and speed of the site come all functionalities that build a contextualized CX that wows customers. Scheduling features, integrated payment services, chatbots, company blogs and user-friendly product pages are all commonplace modules that combine to create the experience that customers are expecting from modern companies. For SMBs looking to digitally transform their operations, this can be daunting, even without the consideration of what happens when online reliability comes into play.

A Great Website Is Only As Good As Its Uptime

With the pandemic and consumer preferences increasingly shifting commerce online, a great web presence is not only built based on total functionality but also reliability. While at the most extreme end of the scale, it’s reported one hour of downtime for Amazon during a Prime Day in 2018 may have cost the company up to $99 million in sales. More realistically, for a website bringing in $10 million in sales, even downtime of 2% per year would end up costing around $200,000 in lost revenue.

For SMBs looking to eventually hit that $10 million mark, the first step to ensuring revenue loss is kept to a minimum is in conversations with those who are going to be hosting your website overall, as well as the vendors you are looking to bring on board to develop necessary capabilities at the digital edge of your enterprise.

Questions around average downtime, customer support for outages and internal monitoring are important to bring up at the start when vetting vendors. The website for a modern enterprise isn’t simply hosting a single page where you can find their contact information and hours, which means as more elements become braided together, its critical reliability is kept consistent across the entire site. It doesn’t matter if your purchasing portal is online or if your scheduling tool is preventing the sales team from meeting with potential leads. Any break in the chain can be considered a lost revenue opportunity, and for growing enterprises that aren’t looking to spend millions hiring their own team to develop every element of their web presence from scratch, vendor reliability is of paramount importance.

100% Uptime Isn’t Realistic, So What Should You Do When Service Is Down?

Being honest internally about where your potential faults may be regarding digital capabilities is the first step to keeping a top-tier CX—even when things go wrong. Being prepared for the eventual few minutes or hours of downtime is the best approach and will always be the best way to keep brand perception high with your existing and potential customers. When you’re aware of an issue, let your support team know that there may be an increase in the number of support tickets and dedicate more resources to handling incoming requests regarding issues with the site. If there is a manual workaround you can provide while the site is being fixed, such as having support teams schedule calls with sales, you may ultimately be able to recoup potentially lost revenue and show your customers that you’re there for them even when technology may not be.

There has yet to be a company that has been able to operate on a zero-downtime basis. Within the world of technology, as within any field, it is a known fact that things fail, and while the technological capabilities of providers have improved exponentially since the early days of the internet, there’s yet to be a perfect solution produced. There is also no perfect standard for uptime, but that shouldn’t remove it from being an important factor when choosing vendors. Reliability is not an area where you should be willing to compromise when comparing features and price. A fancy tool to impress your new customers that is constantly down will ultimately come back to harm your growing brand.

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