These 10 essential items should be part of every contact center’s contingency strategy
Executives should have a plan to deal with critical emergency situations. It’s simply smart management. Though we hope to never encounter a business-threatening disaster, if it does occur, will you be ready?
More importantly, when you outsource services to a contact center, will they be ready? Do they have an emergency procedure? Now is the time to ask, before catastrophe strikes.
The following items should be part of every contact center’s emergency policy:
Disaster Recovery Strategy
The best defense to deal with unexpected events is to have a formal disaster recovery strategy. While no plan is guaranteed to cover every possible situation, having a procedure in place means that careful consideration was given on how to deal appropriately with unexpected events. This is key.
Too many contact centers put off the creation of a disaster recovery plan, hoping against hope that it will never come up. You don’t want a contact center that hopes they can deal with emergencies. You want one who’s prepared to respond.
An essential element in dealing with emergencies is having backup power if the utility power fails. Ideally, power backup comes from two forms. One is a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) to deal with short-term outages, power sags, and brownouts. Longer power outages require a backup generator. When combined, these two backup power elements will keep your contact center running if they lose utility power.
On-Site Tech Staff
Another critical item is having on-site technical staff. These people have the computer, networking, and system knowledge needed to respond quickly in the event of an emergency.
Too many contact centers skip this step. Instead, they depend on vendor-provided support. But what if the vendor is busy helping other contact centers? What if the emergency prohibits your contact center from reaching their vender?
Having on-site tech support is the first line of defense in dealing with an emergency. As a backup to on-site staff, contact centers should have a support agreement with their vendor to assistas needed. Though the scope of coverage varies from vendor to vendor, the main point is to make sure support is available if required.
Contact centers rely heavily, or exclusively, on the internet to provide service and connect with your customers. Ideally, they should have two internet service providers serving their contact center. This way, if one fails, the other can carry the load. In cases where dual providers aren’t an option, the internet service provider should be able to guarantee high reliability and a quick rollover to an alternate connection in an emergency.
Reliable Telephony Connections
Just as reliable internet connections are essential, so too are phone company lines and trunks. Although some contact centers route everything through the internet, many also have services with the phone company. In this instance, the contact center should be identified as a key provider with the telephone company to assure the speedy restoration of services should they be lost.
What if your contact center’s facility is compromised and personnel can’t access it? While we hope this would never happen, it’s a plausible scenario. Does your contact center system allow their agents to work remotely and process calls? Having remote access allows the capability of setting up an off-site emergency command center to handle your calls.
Another innovation is backup servers, switches, and routers that are automatically accessed if the primary one fails. Although not all contact centers have computer and switching equipment in their offices, if they do they should have hot standbys of all critical systems should a primary unit fail.
An alternate technology—which goes by many names, such as hosted services, SaaS (software as a service), or cloud-based services—removes the need for contact centers to have much equipment on site. Instead, hardware and software are handled offsite by their vendor. If this is the case for your contact center, make sure the vendor providing the service has their own backup emergency contingency.
A final item is a good inventory of backup components and systems. In the event the contact center is lacking sufficient spare parts, the center may need to have an emergency part shipped. And as they wait for the shipment to arrive, they could be significantly incapacitated, or their system might be completely down. Either scenario is unacceptable.
Though it’s impossible to avoid the impact of every type of potential emergency, careful planning will ensure most of them are dealt with quickly and efficiently without impacting contact center clients. In fact, the best plans allow for an emergency response without clients even knowing a problem arose.
A little bit of planning today, avoids a whole lot of frustration tomorrow. Make sure your contact center is ready to deal with emergencies when they occur—because unexpected problems will happen.
Ansafone Contact Centers, a 24/7 live contact center service provider, uses a multi-channel communication approach to help clients communicate via phone and live chat, with email management and social media monitoring. Ansafone’s business process outsourcing (BPO) services specialize in customer service, help desk, tier-1 tech support, sales conversion, and enrollment. Click here to learn more.