Disaster Recovery in Customer Relationship Management

Customer Service
Customer Service
Companies should use CRM to support their disaster recovery efforts.

Globalization puts risk management on executives' agenda as an important daily topic. Prediction, prevention, simulation, and many tools regarding risk management are gaining more and more importance in business continuity and sustainable growth initiatives.

Additionally, world economic and financial turmoil is affecting many governments, organizations, institutions, and individuals. Mother Nature is making the situation more complex. The world has witnessed huge damage due to natural disasters in the past several years, with earthquakes, cyclones, floods, and volcanic activity that are adding to the challenges in current financial markets by devastating many government's budgets and companies' budgets.

As a result, many institutions are trying to find new techniques and strategies for managing disaster recovery. Today's marketing managers and executives are now facing as shift from Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to Disaster Recovery Management (DRM). Consider, for example, Iceland's famous volcano Eyjafjallaj??l and its recent effects on CRM.

Many flights over Europe had been cancelled, postponed, or changed during Eyjafjallaj??l's activities. The impact financially was estimated to be about 2 billion Euro across the air travel sector in general. Is it the only impact that can be calculated? There are also costs associated with the cancellation or postponement of many business meetings, agreements, and contracts, as well as goods that could not be delivered on time, etc. Additionally, estimates showed that about 2 million people were homeless for a specific period of time waiting in airports, hotels, or parks, or trying to reach their final destinations by cars, buses, or taxis. But first they tried to get real information from their airlines or elsewhere. At that moment came the importance of CRM globally. Thanks to Eyjafjallaj??l, now the world is aware of the value of using CRM to help with disaster recovery.

One airline that used CRM in this manner is Turkish Airlines, which received kudos from many of its passengers waiting in European airports. The airline attemped to contact each of its stranded customers, and did its best to rebook them or inform them of the ongoing situation.

Here are six areas to consider when using CRM to support Disaster Recovery Management:

  • Establish a DRM board to determine priorities, procedures, and the like.
  • Develope cooperative agreements with partners. In the case of an airline, it might consider agreements with hotel chains, railways, or bus companies.
  • Prepare contact center scripts for communicating with customers about the situation.
  • Have a backup plan for outsourcing additional contact center seats, or for shifting calls from a main center if it is rendered non-operational by the disaster.
  • Invest in a CRM system that will enable easy customer outreach.
  • Use customer analytics to determine potential financial losses from affected customers.

We are living in the "customer age," where customers are increasingly "owning" the relationship. Since Mother Nature is not aware of that, companies should use CRM to support customers during times of disaster recovery. Eyjafjallaj??l's lessons learned will surely enhance global readiness for such scenarios.

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About the Author: Cuneyt Dirican, Ph.D., is a customer strategy consultant.