“Don, please schedule an emergency meeting with all IT and telecom staff. We had a flood in the first floor of building C at the Washington Drive campus. We need to figure out how to provide sales, marketing and accounting with immediate access to our customers as the phones on that floor aren’t working now. I know we have a major disaster recovery plan that includes the loss of buildings, but right now only floor one of the main campus is affected. “
“No problem Jack. This may not be as difficult as you think. Remember when we implemented the new Cisco contact center infrastructure last year? I believe, based on the information you just gave me, that I can get people taking and making phone calls from another location. I’ll go ahead and set up the meeting ASAP. But I really think we can get this situation under control fairly quickly.”
Is this an example of a modern-day action hero or smart planning and contact center design? Through the use of innovative contact center technologies, business leaders have become an invaluable asset to other departments in a disaster situation. Companies need an architecture and strategy that enables them to extend the walls of traditional contact centers to resolve corporate wide challenges, like the situation above.
Over the last twenty years, contact centers have become critical to the nucleus of business operations. For Fortune 500 companies, whether it’s 1 or 500, contact centers routinely performing telephone sales, customer service, order processing, technical support and more. Advancements in contact center technology have enabled business owners and technical strategists to deliver phone, email, web chat and self-service contacts better, faster and smarter.
The Contact Center and Business Continuity
Many companies struggle to identify how to further maximize the significant investment made in contact center technology and how it can help resolve the ever challenging issues of business continuity. Because contact centers have become so critical in the day-to-day business of delivering sales and services, it only seems natural that these same resources be extended in new and innovative ways to ensure continuity during natural or business disasters.
Business continuity describes the processes and procedures an organization puts in place to ensure that essential functions can continue during and after a disaster. With contact center technology already in use in many organizations, these same contact center infrastructures can now be utilized to:
- Conduct sales and customer service in remote locations during cyclical outages due to inclement weather
- Handle critical customer service during service outages due to network instability issues
- Handle extended outages for specific parts of the business using remote contact center staff
- Handle high volumes of contacts driven by seasonal impacts or cyclical advertising campaigns – without hiring full-time, year-round personnel.
Business continuance planning seeks to prevent interruption of mission-critical services, and to reestablish full functionality as swiftly and smoothly as possible. Contact centers provide not only the ability to deliver services critical to daily operations during a disaster, they may be utilized to deliver non-contact center centric communication services as well as contact center services such as customer support, sales and technical support. Non-contact center centric communication could include mass updates to distributors during bad weatheror an outbound campaign to notify employees of payroll issues.
So what should a company consider when assessing how contact centers might help in an overall business continuity plan? Ask the following:
- What departments are the critical departments in any disaster?
- Do these identified departments use the phone as a centric communication method? or email? or both?
- Would cross training with these departments on a regular basis be possible?
- Is there a communication plan in place that depicts how contact center resources will be “pulled in” when issues occur?
Using a predetermined Business Continuity Management (BCM) plan, organizations can utilize traditional contact center technologies based in mobile communications to move beyond the walls of the contact center. The idea is to allow organizations to continue operations simply by adding staff in another location while leveraging the deployed contact center infrastructure.
Adding Peripheral Staff
Staffing in an area away from the disaster or outage can be swiftly accomplished and offers the following advantages:
- No additional server equipment required
- Use of a standard home-based DSL connection
- Use of a notebook or desktop computer with company supplied application and security
- Less than 4 hours of end-user training
Within hours, contact center agents can be processing inbound contacts and making outbound contacts.
Now, contact centers can truly break down the walls between departments and become a strategic element moving forward. With the right technology, business continuity can be achieved with a single additional mobile agent. Modern-day action heroes? CDW believes it is possible to be an IT or telecom action hero and help the company leap over disaster challenges in a single bound. See what CDW has to offer for Unified Communications today.