It takes 20 years to build a reputation, and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett.

Damage to your business’ reputation can reduce shareholder value, result in clients leaving you, and lead to reduced turnover & profits.

Here are three ways that your reputation can be damaged by your IT department or IT support company.

Not securing your business against data theft

Losing data, or having it stolen, can be a crippling blow to any business – often leading to extinction in the future. If you lose customer data to cyber criminals, your reputation is going to take a battering. This effect is significantly amplified if you work in an industry where data is sensitive or confidential, such as financial services or healthcare.

cyber security

In addition, if you’re regulated by bodies such as the FCA, you could be in breach of their compliance rules – resulting in hefty fines and more damage to your reputation.

The UK operation of Zurich Insurance was fined £2.3 million in 2010 for customer data loss. The damage to Zurich’s reputation is harder to quantify, but customer bank account and credit card information was lost and Zurich did not become aware of this until a year later.

The FCA said in a statement: “Zurich UK failed to take reasonable care to ensure it had effective systems and controls to manage the risks relating to the security of customer data resulting from the outsourcing arrangement.

“The firm also failed to ensure that it had effective systems and controls to prevent the lost data being used for financial crime.”

Your IT department or outsourced IT provider needs to take all of the required steps to fully protect your business against data theft. This means following a security best practice checklist, and ensuring the business meets all of the points. Technology consulting should be provided to ensure the business understands which technology solutions are needed in order to meet business goals/challenges – which in this case is security of data.

Not Following Security Procedures when Employees Leave the Company

It would be nice to be able to completely trust everybody you’ve ever employed, but unfortunately this is not the case. Sometimes people can be motivated by financial gain, or they may bear a grudge against you and wish to cause disruption – some of which can result in reputation damage if data or systems are sabotaged.

Are security procedures being followed throughout the employee offboarding process to ensure they are unable to continue using systems which they should no longer be able to access?

When employees leave, your IT department needs to promptly jump into action to ensure the relevant procedures are followed, otherwise you could have a crisis on your hands that can damage the business’ reputation and affect it in other ways.

Unable to get you back up and running after a disaster

We’ve already noted how important the security of data is to your reputation, but the availability of it is almost as important. IT related disasters can happen to anyone – but a good IT partner can definitely help to reduce the likelihood of it happening to you.

If it does happen, the damage to your reputation is magnified the longer you are unable to service clients. If staff are unable to work and help customers it might be acceptable for a short amount of time, but patience will diminish quickly. What you really need is a Business Continuity Plan that is documented and accessible in times of disaster.

Backup and Disaster Recovery

If you’re working with electronic data, not paper based, which is regularly backed up and you have remote working capabilities and a cloud based phone system, then your office could burn down and your customers would be none the wiser.

If your IT partner isn’t up to scratch and hasn’t been recommending improved systems during your time with them, a disaster could result in you being unable to work for days or even weeks – and when you do get working again there’s no guarantee that your data will be restorable. Try explaining to clients that you’re finally able to work again, but you’ve lost their data