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Contact Centers Must Be Included in Disaster Recovery Plans

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Incorporating the Contact Center Into Disaster Recovery Programs Can Yield Significant Results

Having the ability to quickly restore operations in the wake of an emergency requires contributions from teams throughout the enterprise. The contact center in particular often plays a critical role in how organizations react and respond to natural or man-made disasters in and outside of the workplace. This is largely because these departments are often the central hub of information for employees and customers who are looking for answers as to what is happening and the steps needed to remediate any issues.

A Frost & Sullivan report highlighted the importance of incorporating the contact center into disaster recovery programs, as individuals in these departments are usually effective at disseminating information throughout the corporate and customer landscape. Reports often reiterate the fact that natural and man-made catastrophes cost millions of dollars in damages and long-term operational challenges. If businesses do not have plans in place that allow them to mitigate the effect of these events, they will find themselves fighting an uphill battle as they struggle to maintain functionality.

"The importance of information during times of such distress has made a strong case for advanced and multilayered [business continuity and disaster recovery] methods," said Brendan Read, information and communication technologies industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan. "This enables contact centers to plan, respond and recover from natural and man-made disasters."

How Contact Centers Can Help

The evolution of the business phone system, driven by cloud, mobile and social channels, has allowed contact centers to leverage more sophisticated collaborative tools that can aid in their ability to communicate with clients and colleagues in a post-disaster scenario. At the same time, however, these same transformations have been happening in the consumer landscape, meaning customers don't only expect organizations to operate in the wake of an emergency, they demand it.

Frost & Sullivan revealed that approximately 31 percent of businesses claim they are prepared to manage and mitigate outages during a disaster. Still, organizations need to be on their toes to ensure they do not inadvertently encounter unnecessary complications along the way, including poor collaboration with colleagues and the inability to deliver crucial information to waiting clients.

These needs have increased the importance of incorporating the contact center into continuity efforts. Implementing a hosted PBX system in the workplace can help keep collaboration intact when most other technologies are unavailable, but educating customer service representatives on the importance of strengthening general communications is even more important.

Analysts highlighted several key considerations for contact centers that are looking to build robust disaster recovery initiatives, noting that decision-makers must first balance the pros and cons of developing these strategies. In many cases, investing in comprehensive continuity initiatives will require firms to replace old phone systems and purchase other equipment, which can put a serious burden on the bottom line if these expenses are not factored into the overall plan.

Additionally, contact center managers need to get employees motivated, as having an inefficient on-site or remote workforce in the wake of an emergency can introduce significant performance issues.

Disaster Recovery Planning

Business continuity plans are critical components of an organization's long-term success, as failing to ensure operations continue functioning - at least on a basic level - will only make it more difficult for companies to guarantee their survival.

"The incremental costs of providing full business continuity versus business disruption also should be considered," Read asserted. "Finally, all BC/DR strategies depend on how well these plans are drafted and kept up-to-date and how effectively the staff is trained to handle them. These measures must also include methods to protect their most important assets, which are their employees."

Network World highlighted that beginning with an accurate picture of what cofuld happen and how employees will react is a crucial first step in planning for a disaster. Managers should know how to allocate their time and effort in these types of scenarios, as developing ad-hoc recovery initiatives at the last minute will only make the workplace chaotic and less efficient.

Enterprises also need to prioritize the protection of mission-critical assets, such as office phone systems and other communication technologies. Network World stated that better disaster outcomes come hand-in-hand with thorough planning, meaning executives have taken the time to assess the risks associated with losing access to certain resources by prioritizing the safety of other services. Rather than simply tagging everything as crucial, managers should understand which tools are essential for day-to-day operations and which applications do not necessarily need to be restored right away.

There is no doubt that natural or man-made disasters are a major threat to organizations, as they can occur without warning and mercy. Planning ahead is critical to ensuring enterprises have the power - and knowledge - needed to bring productivity back into the workplace, regardless of external circumstances.