Ensuring “Always On” Customer Service When Disaster Strikes

With recent winter weather conditions affecting businesses around the globe, it’s a perfect time to revisit your disaster-preparedness response capabilities. But organizations must be prepared for not only extreme weather, but disasters of all kinds. Protecting a company’s assets, namely human resources and infrastructure, should always remain top of mind.

Delivering on service commitments can make or break an organization. And in the event of a storm, fire, earthquake, or any other disaster, it’s vital to a company’s brand and reputation that its customer service remains up and running. According to a recent article by Paul Egger, vice president, Global Contact Center Operations, at TELUS International, research suggests that large companies lose an average of $84,000 to $108,000 per hour of downtime. Most businesses just can’t afford that type of financial loss.

In his article on customer service disaster preparation, Egger asks: “What happens to customer service if a contact center goes down from natural disaster, infrastructure disaster (like power loss), or people-initiated disaster (intentional or not)?” His answer is clear: With changing conditions in our environment and the ever-increasing connectedness of people around the world, the potential impact of disasters can be catastrophic.

Ensuring that your contact center agents or customer service team remain available and functional in the face of disaster rests on a solid infrastructure and line of communication.

Egger suggests companies ask 10 questions when assessing their customer service preparedness level during a disaster. “Ask yourself:

  1. How is staffing planned for unusual situations?
  2. What sort of incentives/amenities can you provide to motivate your employees to come to work soon after a disaster?
  3. Do you have a plan for contacting employees in unusual situations when phone systems are unavailable?
  4. Can calls be seamlessly rerouted to other locations, including other sites or geographies?
  5. Will the voice and data networks allow for global, next-available-agent call routing?
  6. Can agents in other locations still take calls in the languages required, and are they appropriately skilled to do so?
  7. How do you test your environment?
  8. Do you actually take real-world scenarios into account, not just equipment failures?
  9. How much notice is needed to put alternatives into action?
  10. Are you able to leverage deep relationships with local service providers of telecommunications and power in the affected areas to ensure your needs get priority?”

For more customer service preparedness tips, read the full article: