Disaster can happen at any moment and at any time. The company who managers your call center can suffer from storms, fires, floods or worse. No matter what the disaster you need to have a plan in place to be ready in case disaster strikes.
matter where your outsourcer site is located; it is at risk of a disaster. That
disaster may be from a utility outage, storm, flood, fire, quake, volcano, or
act of violence. Moreover, disasters
usually don't happen as a single event. They
involve multiple facets. For example, storms may involve flooding or heavy snow
with the loss of electricity and/or communications.
No matter what
the disaster, you and your outsourcer need to have a plan for business
continuity and disaster recovery. The plan should pre-define what personnel
will do to reestablish operations during an emergency at your outsourcer facilities.
Even as you
plan, these pre-defined procedures should not to be interpreted as the only
course of action. In most cases, they should be overshadowed by common sense or
modified by the conditions of the particular emergency. Also recognize your
planning will not remain static. You
will need to amend your planning to reflect changes in your operations and that
of your outsourcer.
As you plan,
recognize that disasters have different levels of severity: minimal loss,
partial loss, and complete loss.
be a temporary loss of a utility such as water, electrical, or communications.
It may also be a weather-related closure without damage to facilities or loss
of staff. In a minimal loss scenario, there may be little to do but work with
the utilities or wait for the weather. If the loss impacts operations for more
than a day, you need to have a plan for an alternative site with the ability to
take the calls for the stricken site.
be part of your outsourcer selection. Pick one site in a warm southern climate
and another in the northern climate, because hurricanes and snowstorms rarely
happen at the same time.
outsourcer is offshore, be sure their site has alternative power supplies such
as an uninterruptable power supply and generators. An alternative water supply
is also good planning since facilities without water can be just as disruptive
as a lack of electricity.
Minimal loss planning should include the impact of pandemics such as the avian flu, SARS, and other unpublicized diseases. For example, in 2009, The World Health Organization estimated the global H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak could infect 2 billion over the course of the pandemic. The flu may not be destructive to your outsourcer's call center, IT systems, or facilities, but they can a severe impact on your workforce.
pandemic emergencies should provide the option for agents to work at home to
prevent the spread of infection. You will need to plan for the shift in network
loads for agents who remotely login and an alternate means of voice
communications to continue normal call flow.
Partial loss of a physical location
requires planning to reorganize the work. Planning for a partial loss is similar to a minimal loss
scenario except that you need to deal with damage to facilities. Recovering
from a partial loss may mean moving agents to an undamaged portion of the building,
but emphasis should be to the safety and well-being of personnel.
Complete loss denotes the full
destruction of a call center site and equipment. Planning for a complete loss
requires the relocation of operations for an indefinite period of time while reconstruction of the facility is performed.
action for each of these levels is sufficient for planning. However, to ensure
that plans can be invoked when actual disasters happen requires testing.
Disaster recovery testing determines how well you have planned and requires a
heavy investment in time and manpower. If the test doesn't work, your teams
must find the flaw and retest. Thus, you and your outsourcer should recognize
the resource commitment to configure networks and communications for the test and
to return the configuration to its normal state.
© 2011 Geoffrey Best.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This excerpt, courtesy of Editor Laura Lowell, is Rule 41 from "42 Rules for Outsourcing Your Call Center by Geoffrey A. Best". Geoffrey A. Best has worked with call centers for over 20 years. His experience has provided him with insight into the systems and methods that companies use to operate their call centers and service their customers. You can learn more about Geoffrey and purchase the book at http://42rules.com/book/42-rules-for-outsourcing-your-call-center/