ICMI is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst

We are at the peak of hurricane season and have recently weathered many storms here in the US from coast to coast. The hurricanes of Florida, North Carolina, and Hawaii serve to remind us that natural disasters can affect us at any time, anywhere. When these natural disasters hit, is your contact center ready to take on the rise in contact volumes? If your contact center is in the disaster zone, is it prepared to keep lines of communication open? For this article, I wanted to take some time out to focus on contact center best practices for emergency preparedness and disaster management. Let's dive in!

What to Do Beforehand

Does your contact center have the best possible plan in place for emergency preparedness and disaster management? Knowing this information is essential to the long-term success of your contact center.

Having a plan in place is essential for ensuring that you are as prepared as possible for natural disasters. A written disaster recovery plan that is available to all departments and tested on a regular basis is crucial for contact center success during an emergency. Consider these aspects when creating a plan for disaster preparedness:

Your People

  1. Ensure you have a backup plan for your contact center operations - is your secondary contingency operating site ready to take on contact volumes in the event of an emergency?
  2. Ensure that you have a dedicated disaster recovery resource, preferably a team versus one person.
  3. The process for evacuating employees in case of an emergency.
  4. Regular practice drills to familiarize employees with the process.
  5. Appointment of designated personnel to manage the safety and exit procedures of team members.
  6. Identification of potential safety zones on the premises, should the need arise.

Your Assets

  1. Have a detailed inventory that lists each item that you own as a business asset on the premises.
  2. Discuss with your contractors and insurance providers the options that are available to you for risk minimization as well as coverage and protection.
  3. Ensure that important software and data are backed up and stored in alternative locations.
  4. Develop a plan for the relocation of business operations.

Your Plan for the Way Forward

  1. Have a list of contractors, suppliers, and service providers who can help your business get back up and running as quickly as possible.
  2. Also, have a list in place of all the primary stakeholders, clients, and customers who need to be consistently updated about your business.
  3. Understand what your State can offer you concerning management and support for natural disasters.
  4. Always set aside funds for disaster management as part of your operational expenses to adequately cover the transition to becoming fully functional again.

What to Do During a Disaster

Planning adequately for emergencies helps to minimize your risks. Here are some things to keep in mind during a disaster:

  • Maintain strong and compassionate leadership, as your team will be looking to you for guidance.
  • Ensure that your employees know that their welfare is of paramount importance.
  • Keep communication channels open with your team so that you can keep abreast of whether they are all safe.
  • Set up a means to provide support for your team.
  • Strategize the use of available team members to keep your operations running if possible.
  • Maintain open channels of communication with your customers, clients, and key stakeholders.

What to Do in the Aftermath

In the article, "Aftermath: Disaster Recovery," Gartner estimates that two out of five enterprises that experience a disaster will go out of business in five years. Therefore, the way that you deal with the aftermath of a disaster is crucial:

  1. Continually assess the situation to understand damages as well as parts of the contact center business that are "surviving," or even "thriving."
  2. Discuss recovery support with your contractors and insurance providers.
  3. Continue to provide strong leadership, support, and mentorship for your employees.
  4. Work towards getting back on track with your people, processes, and systems in a phased manner.