Maintaining customer service standards during busy periods can easily fall by the wayside at the start of the year. It’s hard to keep usual processes and activities on track when key employees are often at home or away ill. But customers aren’t going to stay around for long if service slips – they’ll quickly start looking for alternatives if they don’t feel what they’re paying for lives up to their expectations.
It’s a tricky thing to manage. The nature of modern business is that an effective IT strategy now has an impact on all kinds of other activities. Keeping systems ‘always-on’ provides the best platform for employees to perform at their best, and help businesses stay as agile as possible. Here are four tips we’ve found particularly useful for businesses to bear in mind, in order to help them meet customer expectations and deliver great service during one of the busiest times of the year.
1. Proactivity is key
The threat of cybercriminals and software bugs don’t go away just because security has slipped on the priority list. According to the 2019 Veeam Cloud Data Management Report, application downtime costs organisations a total of $20million each year in lost revenue and productivity. What’s more, research from Accenture found that malware costs an average of $2.6m annually for organisations. So, at any time, but especially during peak periods, businesses should make sure they’re investing in strong and reliable backup and disaster recovery solutions to proactively protect their data. An effective disaster recovery plan could be the difference between a successful business and a struggling one.
It all starts with an impact assessment – businesses should be getting a clear understanding of where disaster recovery fits within their overall strategy. Identifying the apps and processes critical for maintaining consistent quality of service is highly useful. From there, setting things like ideal recovery targets is much more straightforward.
The effects of a data breach or cyberattack is the last thing a business needs, especially at a time when capacity might be reduced. The likes of Xbox Live or PSN, for instance, can’t afford to experience the outages they saw last year. Just after Christmas is a key time for customers to try out their new consoles. Being proactive is one way organisations can make sure they’re back up and running as soon as possible.
2. Invest in AI
Businesses are more successful when employees are given the space to focus on the most important tasks – especially those that are more creative and require more complex decision making and planning. The development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning has the potential to change the way businesses work and lighten their load.
Administrative tasks currently take up significant amounts of time. Lengthy reporting processes and internal emails can crowd out the time that’s needed for other activities that might add more value. AI software can thrive in these kinds of routine environments. The potential time savings could be immense too - analysis from McKinsey found the average professional spends 28 per cent of the work day reading and answering email. Optimising the workload for employees means that individuals can focus on the priority actions needed to meet customer demands. Veeam research highlights the optimism business leaders have in this area, with 81 per cent of businesses already having or are planning to deploy AI in the next 12 months.
3. Data is crucial for productivity
An increase in workload can be challenging but it should not result in surprises. Analysing data around productivity and customer interactions can help balance capacity and more effectively plan for employee absences. Organisations should encourage all departments to extend their IT ability, and start using the performance metrics they might already have at their disposal in smarter ways.
Becoming more data-driven allows businesses to ensure that productivity remains consistent even during crunch periods, and also that time is being invested in the right way. The ability to make informed decisions based on the very latest information can be hugely useful. Businesses can easily produce huge amounts of data, but if there isn’t a culture that takes the value of it seriously at a high level, it will remain more of a burden than an advantage.
Improving employees’ digital skills to understand and recognise data’s value is a big part of making this cultural change a reality - 91 per cent of business leaders view employees improving these as vital to their success, according to Veeam’s 2019 Cloud Data Management report.
4. Always backup
While urgent priorities can always crop up, teams with a reduced workforce shouldn’t have any major issues if proper plans have been put into place. However, a team that doesn’t back up their data is putting themselves at major risk. It seems obvious, but this data can often represent serious time and investment, as well as being the very foundation of a company’s continued operation.
A progressive business takes safeguarding data seriously. It’s not just a case of staying operational – it’s also part of staying compliant with the likes of the General Data Protection Act (GDPR) and other data protection legislation. Putting reasonable measures in place to safeguard data is now a basic expectation of data controllers by the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO). The 3-2-1 approach, which involves keeping three copies of data on two different media, with one offsite, has been a common rule of thumb for good reason. Having a Cloud Data Management strategy which includes automated backup solutions is crucial and provides the peace of mind that allows employees to focus on the more important things.
Ensuring that digital infrastructure is always accessible, active and backed up is vital around the festive period. Digital services are how modern organisations are reaching their customers, securing orders and innovating. What’s more, data-driven decision making is becoming an essential part of business operations across all kinds of sectors. As organisations plan for the year ahead, having access to these insights is particularly important. It’s also a competitive advantage – by getting this right, businesses can put themselves on the best path to success.
Michael Cade, Senior Global Technologist, Veeam