Australia’s extreme weather and the fires that have accompanied it have made international news in recent weeks. As well as those who are dealing with the fiery impact directly in their own backyards, many more have been hit by the knock-on effects: cities shrouded in dust and smoke, people cut off from neighbours and shops, work, schools and business.
Premier Technologies has decades of experience in helping organisations ensure that critical technology like contact centre systems and phone systems remain operational. As a result, a number of Premier Contact Point customers operate mission critical contact centres which help the community deal with extreme weather events just like what we’ve seen recently.
Be prepared – have a solid Disaster Recovery Plan
The phrase learnt in Girl Guides or Boy Scouts isn’t just a motto. It’s a mantra for life. Often, we’re so busy getting on with things, we often don’t think about what we’d do if something went wrong. We pay our insurances, and then get back to work.
But as recent events have reminded us, there are more things that can go wrong when things go wrong – everything, and everyone, is connected. What would happen if there was a public transport incident; an accident, or a strike for instance? How many of your team would be stuck and unable to get to work? How would that then impact those of your staff who are already in the office, and the customers they were trying to help? Your call statistics would take a nosedive, and your reputation with it. You could even lose customers. Ouch.
Here are a few things you can put in place now so you’re not caught with your call centres down when something happens.
Put a plan together and communicate it to your team
One of the first things Premier Technologies will do with you and your team when we implement Premier Contact Point, is to help you create a business continuity plan (BCP) for your contact centre. This forms a vital part of your overall disaster recovery plan and sets out a course of action you can implement quickly if your staff can’t access the platform from your office. Your tailored BCP will include automated workflows to deal with calls, pre-recorded messages, and any other tools we identify as part of the planning and on-boarding process.
A critical component of this plan’s success will be making sure your team is fully aware of what to do in the event of a crisis, and that any resources they need are easy to access and understand. We highly recommend you and your team review and practice your BCP strategies regularly, using scenarios that are relevant to your business.
Use recorded messages
Premier Contact Point provides the ability to play recorded messages in specific scenarios (e.g. flash notifications for unexpected events, or when no staff are logged into the system to take calls). Your contact centre managers can also record messages “on the fly” using their computer’s microphone, activate previously uploaded recordings, or upload new recordings in standard MP3 file format.
Remote-activate your staff
No, we’re not talking about turning them into cyborgs. Our cloud-based solution makes it easy for your staff to work remotely if circumstances cut them off from normal transport options and they can’t get into the office. This capability also helps if you need to divert overflow calls to other company staff. Which leads us to our next tip…
Build flexibility into your system
If you need to temporarily increase the number of staff who can access your system and process calls, we have several flexible, on-demand pricing options that can help you adapt and respond to your situation.
Arm your agents to handle increased call volumes
Even with a range of strategies in place to help you meet your customers’ demands, you may still be inundated with calls – particularly if your customers are affected by the same things your staff are trying to cope with. Think of the increased volumes experienced by emergency services, health care providers, insurance companies, and charities in the midst of the fires.
With Premier Contact Point, you can deploy a number of options to handle the increased load, while making sure all your customers are still being taken care of. If queues and wait times are blowing out, you can offer your customers:
- IVR avalanche service, which diverts calls to a different IVR and provides call handling and escalation options.
- Virtual hold, which allows the customer to keep their place in the queue without having to stay on hold. They then receive a call-back when it’s their turn.
- Voicemail and call-back services, which are automatically sent to agents.
Set a regular interval to review your plan
It’s important not to just “set and forget” your BCP. Review it regularly and make sure it’s always up to date with your latest systems and processes. A regular review is also a good time to write in any new lessons you may have learned from past events and incidents. The Premier Contact Point Report Manager module is built upon Gartner’s Magic Quadrant Leader for business analytics tools and lets you analyse activity down to 15-minute intervals, giving you insights into how your team coped, and what you may be able to improve on in future.
Our natural inclination is to help people in dire straits, and you and your team may think little of going above and beyond to support your customers in challenging times.
But it’s also important that those in your team are safe too – at work, at home, and travelling between the two. Intense situations can have physical and non-physical impacts on everyone’s wellbeing, and it’s times like these you should look out for one another more than ever. Be sure to include rest periods and stress management protocols for your staff as part of your BCP, and arrange appropriate debriefing time once everything has calmed down.
And remember to thank everyone in your company who pitched in, as well as your customers for their patience and understanding. It may not be an enjoyable experience, but it will be a galvanising one for all concerned, building staff and customer loyalty that’s more enduring for your having weathered the storm together.