Disaster Preparedness in the Contact Center: Six Tips for Expecting the Unexpected
March 19, 2013
Natural disasters are not only transforming our planet and those affected by such forces, but also the way customer service should be handled. As the number and ferocity of storms increases, such as Hurricane Sandy, Snow Storm Nemo and the recent blizzards bombarding the East Coast, companies must evaluate their contact centers’ level of preparedness for natural disasters.
A contact center’s disaster preparedness and business continuity strategy needs to be seamless, with zero to minimal impact on the data center, agents and customers.
To prepare for anything Mother Nature throws at them and ensure an “always-on” customer experience, here are six tips and accompanying questions companies must keep in mind:
- If you have a cloud or hosted contact center infrastructure, it’s critical that you partner with a vendor who shares your same views when it comes to disaster planning.
- Ask Yourself: Does my cloud or hosted vendor have redundant failover and highly available architecture?
- Ask Yourself: Can my cloud or hosted vendor quickly redirect traffic across all of my customer channels, including social and mobile, away from the storm’s reach to a different data center with zero to extremely minimal impact on any of my customers?
- During a disaster, communicating with contact center agents to ensure customer service continues can be difficult. If traditional phone and Internet services are impacted, it is important to establish an alternate way of communicating with agents to alert them of the company’s status, such as mobile phones.
- Ask Yourself: How do you contact your employees in unusual situations when phone or Internet systems are unavailable?
- Identify a team of employees who are versatile in their skill sets to execute a disaster recovery plan. They must be informed of their roles and duties to assist in getting the company up and running as quickly as possible.
- Ask Yourself: Who on your team can you trust to keep the company’s customer service initiatives fully functioning during a storm?
- Organizations can suffer physical building damage during disasters, making them inoperable. In this scenario, it is critical for organizations to establish back-up location(s) where the company can still function outside of the disaster zone.
- Ask Yourself: Can customer service inquiries be re-routed to another location?
- More and more premises-based contact centers are migrating to the cloud, which has inherent disaster recovery built into the platform. For instance, customer service inquiries can be re-routed to other locations, such as agents’ homes and geographies outside the affected area.
- Ask Yourself: Have you considered the benefits of moving your contact center to the cloud?
- Consider all scenarios, from equipment failures to real-world use cases, and create plans to handle each one.
- Ask Yourself: Have you identified scenarios in which your disaster recovery strategy would need to be activated?
- Ask Yourself: Do you have a back-up plan that is tested frequently?
If your organization addresses these tips, your contact center will be one step closer to ensuring an “always-on” customer service experience.
About Mark Westover
Mark Westover, SVP of Operations and Finance at LiveOps, has spanned the globe between Japan and Silicon Valley to bring LiveOps a diversified and varied business background. He is responsible for LiveOps’ corporate development and strategy, including identifying and developing global alliances, sales channels and technology partnerships. With a background deeply rooted in operational business planning for B2B organizations, Westover has been instrumental in enabling companies to look across their business landscape to identify acquisition targets, strategic partnerships and create new revenue opportunities.
Prior to LiveOps, Westover spent ten years at Sybase/SAP in various strategic development roles. He was instrumental in reversing the financial and strategic decline of the company through appropriate market positioning, acquisitions, and finally the acquisition of Sybase by SAP. During his tenure, he acquired a dozen companies and established multi-million dollar partnerships with industry leaders, such as IBM, HP, and Apple. His career has also given him the opportunity to live and work in Japan as a product development engineer and a management consultant from 1989 to 1993. He is fluent in Japanese.
Westover obtained his bachelor’s degree with a major in mathematics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He also holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Edited by Braden Becker