If you don’t already have a business continuity plan for your customer service contact center, you should. Ensuring operations can continue even when the deck is stacked against your organization is paramount for customer satisfaction, reputation, and cost management. However, many companies forget to test and review theirs or outright fail to make a business continuity plan for their customer service contact centers. On this page, we’ll dig a bit deeper into the things that can go wrong and what you can do to prevent those things from creating serious problems for your organization.

A Business Continuity Plan Keeps Operations Active when Unforeseen Issues Arise

Business continuity plans ensure critical business processes can still be carried out when issues arise. Companies should have continuity plans for things like their customer service, supply chain, and IT, as well as any other areas which could be costly or damaging to have offline for any period of time.

It’s worth noting that, if you’re working with DATAMARK, we’ll walk you through business continuity planning and ensure operations continue regardless of what’s happening, but if you aren’t working with a specialist, you’ll need to address continuity on your own.

Many Events Can Cause Issues for a Customer Service Contact Center

A multitude of things have the potential to derail operations. Although you may not need to account for each potential issue independently, it’s helpful to consider the types of disruptions which could occur and identify which aspects of your operations will be impacted by them.

  • Power Outages
  • Network Interruptions (system failures, connectivity issues)
  • Inclement Weather (rain, snow, etc.)
  • Natural Disasters (fires, floods, earthquakes, etc.)
  • Crime (theft, hacking, vandalism, riots, arson, etc.)
  • Disruption of Transit Systems (bus driver strikes, bridge outages, road closures, etc.)

You Must Create a Solid Business Continuity Plan for Your Contact Center

Let’s say your company is planning ahead for an IT system failure. Without a backup server, employees would lose access to data and would not be able to assist customers. You could lose customers due to the outage and would likely be paying employees to do nothing while you wait for the IT team to find and implement a solution. So, you proactively create data backups on an alternate server. This is only half the battle because you then need to address where that backup server will go. Some companies will place the backup server with the primary server and consider their continuity planning done. Unfortunately, this won’t help if the event which takes out the primary server impacts the location. For example, a power outage, fire, flood, or other issues could take out both servers at once. This in mind, you’d need to place the backup server in an alternate location or move your backup to the cloud.

Work Out Potential Continuity Issues in Advance

Start by creating a list of potential events which might take your contact center offline, then list each critical dependency. For example, inclement weather could take out your systems and prevent employees from coming to work, while power outages can prevent access to systems and leave employees with nothing to do. Working out the potential issues and everything that might be impacted can be complex, so brainstorm with stakeholders, management, and specialists throughout the company to ensure all potential issues are explored.

Create an Action Plan

Your action plan should include three primary areas: identification of the incident, a protocol for transitioning to “emergency mode,” and protocol for resuming normal operations.

Identification

Select a team member or team members who are responsible for identifying continuity issues and overseeing the transition, then create written documentation which walks them through the steps to take. This includes how to identify if an issue necessitates a reaction, how to protect the team (during events such as natural disasters or when other safety risks are present), how to transition to the continuity plan, and how to communicate with stakeholders about what’s happening and which steps are being taken.

Transition to Continuity Plan

Draft out all steps your responsible party or parties will need to take based upon which systems and activities are impacted. For example, if a tornado is active in the area of your contact center, the responsible party may need to move employees to an alternate location and reroute calls to a different contact center.

Resuming Normal Operations

Create a written process for returning to normal operations. In the case of a tornado, this may involve doing things such as performing a walkthrough of the building, calling employees to return, and routing calls back to the contact center.

Test Your Continuity Plan

You can’t possibly know if your continuity plan will be effective if you don’t test it. Some things may look good on paper, like setting up a backup server, but fail real-life tests because something was overlooked or a component isn’t working properly. Run continuity tests on a regular basis to ensure your team is prepared and operations will not be impacted.

Work with DATAMARK

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Overwhelmed by all the things that could go wrong or not sure how to address potential issues in a comprehensive way? We get it. After three decades in the industry, we’ve seen it all and we not only know the things businesses commonly overlook, but how to address continuity in a cost-effective manner. Visit our call center outsourcing solutions and business reengineering services to learn about the ways we can help or contact us directly for more details.