By Daniel Hunter

Thanks to the speed that news is able to travel over social media today, half of businesses are said to be ‘unprepared to handle a reputation crisis’ according to new research.

Aspect Software’s resident social media expert, Dave Ogden, says this finding is yet another example of organisations failing to keep up with the changing consumer communication landscape.

94 per cent of those surveyed believed that failing to adequately prepare for such events left them vulnerable to ‘trial by twitter’. Furthermore, research conducted by IBM found that 57 per cent of top CEOs across the UK and Ireland believe that social media will become one of — if not the - most important form of customer interaction within the next 3-5 years.

Dave Ogden, Solutions Consultant at Aspect Software, commented: “Companies are aware of the potential detrimental impact that social media can have, yet few are taking steps to protect themselves against these.”

28 per cent had seen the crisis spread internationally within an hour, rising to 69 per cent within 24 hours, and yet, in almost 1 in 5 (18 per cent) incidents, a meaningful response took more than 48 hours.

“Speed is of the essence, now more than ever. The number of cases appearing in the media is too vast to list each one, but one example would be high street banks, which historically had two hours before news cycles picked up on any potential issues like system outages. Yet, one such incident two years ago was flooded across Twitter within two minutes — a 60 fold decrease,” Ogden continued.

“The digital revolution has not just changed the ways we interact, but has had a huge impact on the business world as well, and at a much faster pace than most expected. Organisations have been slow to adapt to this rapidly changing landscape and many are now paying the price as the power shifts to the hands of the consumer.

“Incorporating social media into an ‘omnichannel’ customer experience and actively engaging consumers, using the medium’s conversational abilities, is crucial to pre-emptively avoiding unnecessary bad publicity.

“Technological investment in this area, along with effective planning, is key for companies to protect themselves against such PR disasters, but equally provides them with the facilities to take advantage of the potential benefits this new dynamic medium can bring.”

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