As Hurricane Sandy barrels down from Maryland to Maine today, threatening 50 million people and leaving widespread damage in its massive wake, another less obvious threat looms: how to ensure that your customer service team remains available and functional in the face of disaster.
Forecasters estimate Frankenstorm to be the worst storm to ever hit the eastern U.S. in more than 100 years and will cost the Northeast billions of dollars, but the loss of labor, revenue, and service during this storm can also be devastating to businesses. In fact analysts estimate that large companies lose an average of $84,000 to $108,000 per hour of downtime.
Contact centers serve as a way for companies to withstand some of the estimated loss, keeping business running and communication lines open. But how will your contact center weather Hurricane Sandy? Aside from hopefully already having partnered with a global, reliable contact center partner, there are other standard steps that contact centers must take during disasters, such as maintaining an "on-call" list and implementing a standard script for their customer service agents.
In this 1to1 Media Expert Opinion column, "Ensuring Always-On Customer Service When Disaster Strikes," Paul Egger, vice president, Global Contact Center Operations, at TELUS International, suggests that companies ask 10 questions when assessing their customer service preparedness level during a disaster. They include:
- How is staffing planned for unusual situations?
- What sort of incentives/amenities can you provide to motivate your employees to come to work soon after a disaster?
- Do you have a plan for contacting employees in unusual situations when phone systems are unavailable?
- Can calls be seamlessly rerouted to other locations, including other sites or geographies?
- Will the voice and data networks allow for global, next-available-agent call routing?
- Can agents in other locations still take calls in the languages required, and are they appropriately skilled to do so?
- How do you test your environment?
- Do you actually take real-world scenarios into account, not just equipment failures?
- How much notice is needed to put alternatives into action?
- 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?"
If you've failed to answer one or more of these questions, then it's time to implement a disaster checklist for your contact center and business--if not in time when Hurricane Sandy comes ashore later tonight, but to help weather future natural disasters.