All you need to do is type “website crash” into Google and a list of news stories will appear outlining how huge companies have lost tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds when their websites have crashed, unable to cope with peaks in demand.
These are established, well-respected businesses - like J Crew, Walmart, and even John Lewis on Black Friday of this year. With this now being a regular annual event in retail calendars around the world, it has the advantage for traders that it is a known entity, able to be planned for, promoted and calculated. And even then, these traffic peaks seem to be being unaccounted for and bringing down websites for periods of time. The result of this on customer experience and satisfaction levels can be detrimental at best.
Ryanair has continued to receive backlash from customers and the media recently over their “site down for maintenance” issues. This type of problem has been a contribution to its lowest-rating for customer service for an airline, a ranking no company wants to experience. You can guarantee that customers will also make it known on social media and an influx of calls to call centres can further increase the problem and result in a higher cost-to-serve for businesses.
Now, consider other organisations like train companies, who receive huge demand on their website when the country gets hit by freezing temperatures… the electricity provider who has a power cut during a freak winter snow storm... or the water company faced with leaks via frozen pipes. How do they cope? How do they manage to ensure that their websites handle this peak in traffic and remain a source of information, particularly for vulnerable groups?
This is where cloud solutions like Microsoft Azure come into their own. As far back as March 2017, 88% of UK organisations had adopted at least some level of cloud sevices.
Azure is designed to be elastic, automatically scaling at times of peak demand, then once the increased activity dies off, the site scales down again.
Recently, we coupled this flexibility of Microsoft Azure with the power of the Episerver DXC, for a major utilities client. When Storm Emma hit in Spring 2018, a series of power outages followed. Subsequently, customers flocked to their website to find out about issues in their area and resolution times. The power cut map, which allows customers to quickly identify any issues in their area, efficiently handled a 600% increase in visits. No down time was experienced.
With rising expectations placing greater pressure on businesses to deliver a seamless customer experience across channels in any given situation, even times of peak demand, together with insistence from regulators to eliminate website downtime, this issue will continue to rise in importance. How would your customer experience tooling handle these situations, and where would it fall over?