According to the National Hurricane Center, the Atlantic hurricane season occurs on June 1st until November 30th; while the Eastern Pacific hurricane season is from May 15th and ends November 30th.
This means we still have more than a month to go before we can officially bid adieu to the likes of Florence and Michael, two of the most powerful cyclones that left a trail of devastation in the Carolinas and Florida Panhandle, respectively.
With this in mind, it's vital for contact centers to always keep their guard up and remain resilient in the face of natural disasters. They need to evaluate their level of preparedness, and ensure that their business continuity and disaster recovery strategies are seamless, with zero to minimal impact on the data center, agents and customers. But how?
VoipReview had the chance to speak with Mckay Bird, the Chief Marketing Officer at TCN, Inc., a leading provider of cloud-based call center technology for enterprises, contact centers, BPOs and collection agencies worldwide, to discuss how contact center organizations can best prepare for and protect themselves when disaster strikes.
Q: What crucial steps should organizations take to prepare their contact center for potential disasters and minimize impact on operations?
A: When possible, contact centers should consider opening a second or third location in alternative regions with different time zones. Having multiple locations enables contact centers to reroute communication traffic to other agents located away from the disaster area, which keeps communication lines open and current customers satisfied. If setting up additional locations is not financially feasible, consider leveraging redundant carriers and internet providers, on-call temps or at-home agents instead.
Q: Are there specific areas businesses need to prioritize and focus on when crafting a disaster recovery plan?
A: Businesses need to concentrate on the following areas:
- Data and Call Center Disruptions - Consider these types of questions when you’re building out a disaster plan as it pertains to data centers: Does your core data center operations have a backup plan? Are they redundant to each other? Is your data backed up in other data centers located in different regions?
- Dependency Disruptions - When preparing for disasters, an organization must work to identify organizational dependencies and then draft a plan accordingly. Identified dependencies (and assumptions regarding the state of the dependency) can be related to an organization’s network, storage, database and internal communication, etc. For example, if your business has a server room that houses email and other hard drives that are critical to the day-to-day operations, you might want to consider backing up the data and those drives on a nightly basis, or consider moving to a cloud service provider such as Google.
- External Disruptions - External disruptions are typically out of a company’s control. For instance, natural or national disasters can have long-term effects on a business. Proactively identifying possible external disruptions and creating an emergency action plan around those disruptors will be beneficial to the company during a time of emergency/crisis. Some examples include: rerouting call center traffic, allowing work from home days, identifying ways to operate on a limited scale until services are restored to the region, etc.
Q: What are some of the most common mistakes businesses make when designing their disaster recovery plans?
A: Most often, businesses struggle identifying the best internal and external communication channels, as well as assigning documentation and tracking responsibilities to staff.
Q: Finding the right disaster recovery provider to keep contact center operations running 24/7/365 is a critical piece of the puzzle. How should organizations go about choosing the right partner?
A: We recommend choosing vendor partners that have multiple failovers, network carriers and data centers with a successful track record of reliable uptimes.
Q: How does TCN help contact centers ensure business continuity? Tell us about any experience you have working with customers that suffered communications downtime due to natural disasters/emergencies.
A: In October 2016, a large national bank’s new iOS and Android app suffered an outage, affecting all mobile and online customers for one week. Throughout the outage, customers flooded our client’s call centers with inquiries.
TCN helped the call center scale from 25 to over 200 full-time and temp agents. TCN’s true, cloud-based call center technology alleviated and controlled both inbound and outbound calls with ease throughout this emergency.
TCN is a trusted provider of robust cloud communication technologies and solutions to contact centers, enterprises, BPOs, and collection agencies worldwide. Combining cutting-edge technology, expertise in contact center operations, and a competitive pricing structure, TCN effectively addresses the communication needs of organizations. Platform 3.0, TCN’s hosted contact center suite, is designed to create high-performing contact centers. TCN also offers a range of high-quality solutions, including Interactive Voice Messaging (IVM), Automatic Call Distribution (ACD), Call Distribution, and more.