Magazine article Risk Management

Disaster-Proofing Your Contact Centers

Magazine article Risk Management

Disaster-Proofing Your Contact Centers

Article excerpt

Contact centers have become the arteries of organizations, enabling customer care, retention, inbound and outbound sales, fundraising and donations, and direct response. So more now than ever, it is imperative to take effective measures to protect your centers and the services they provide before a disaster threatens or strikes.

When contact centers close, customers may hear busy signals indicating overloaded or downed phone circuits, receive standard auto-attendant messages or hang-ups, or be put on hold for long periods of time without explanation. E-mails, faxes, webchat requests and callbacks are often forgotten.

As a result, some customers may then become annoyed enough to shop elsewhere. This reaction is understandable. Most people probably have no idea that a disaster has hit your contact centers. And if you provide a critical service such as electricity, gas, telecom, water, healthcare, financial services or transportation, customers expect you to be there. Your call volume will likely jump with impatient and worried callers. If the affected contact centers were handling income-producing calls, such as inbound direct response, signing up new clients, or outbound telemarketing and collections, you could lose customers and revenues.

To ensure customer service, retention and income without spending money unnecessarily, analyze the loss of contact centers to your organization. Look at how long they have been down, and what this has cost. Once you quantify the disaster and potential future ramifications to operations, you can then assess solutions for their cost-effectiveness and justify those investments and programs.

Begin by disaster-proofing your contact centers. You can avoid costly downtime by detecting and fixing trouble spots, like leak-prone hot water tanks located above computer rooms and phone switches that are not connected into backup power circuits.

Take steps to minimize contact volumes while retaining service and revenues. See which contacts you can divert to interactive voice response (IVR), web self-service or into voicemail. Are there programs you can defer, like outbound surveys?

If there are services that live agents normally handle, such as order entry, tell your customers through the auto-attendant: "We are experiencing an emergency that is impacting our ability to serve you. …

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