This weekend saw a nationwide outage of the UK’s No1 payment infrastructure, VISA. There’s no surprise that this outage immediately made headline news. In 2017, contactless card payments accounted for 470 million transactions (+250% YOY) [Statista] and VISA’s 50% market share means they account for the majority of that. To add some perspective, a single day in Dec ‘17 saw 1 million tube journeys made using VISA cards. [Computer Weekly].

Brands are not infallible, and a tech giant like VISA can’t be expected to work 100% of the time, especially with the level of growth the financial industry sees. However maintaining strong levels of brand health means knowing how to behave in times of crisis as well as success.

On average, the brand is mentioned on social media around 2.5k times a day in the UK. During the outage this increased by  800% to 22.9k mentions [Crimson Hexagon]. As this increase implies, a brand’s first line of defence when it comes to a PR crisis is a response through Twitter. Consumers flocked to the platform to voice their concern and were met with an automated, impersonal message. This lack of personal relevance could account for the fact that through emotional sentiment analysis we identified that 49% of negative posts were angry and 29% were sad.

Admittedly, VISA are on the back foot from the off for something like this. Lightbox’s QT Q2’18 report shows that the confidence in Financial Institutions sits at -19%, whereas companies and brands in general have a +17%.
A recent example of a brand that failed to deliver, that Visa could pay attention to is KFC. Their quick response to put out ads admitting their ‘cluck up’ with a bargain bucket saying ‘FCK’ will go a long way to correct consumer brand perceptions.