Implementing Business Continuity Plans for Call Centers

By CIOReview | Thursday, August 18, 2016
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Due to the complexities involved in recovering a telecommunications network, it is important to institute a prior plan that ensures protection in the event of a disaster. Companies, while beginning the planning process for disaster response, should make sure that they have identified the business critical elements. It is a proven fact that identification of core business functions and their classification provides the mechanism for an efficient response. The typical challenges pertaining to a call center recovery shouldn’t be overlooked by the IT teams and the planning should cover every crucial aspect, starting from budgeting to estimated time in recovery operations.

Knowledge of the primary systems of the call center—the voice system and the information system—will help determine the essentials in a recovery plan. The voice and data pathways of call centers are linked by a local area network depending on the number of calls and data to be moved. The synchronization of caller’s data with the company’s database is carried out by the call center system, which processes all the incoming calls. It displays all the information related to the caller with whom the call center executive interacts.

However, designing a recovery plan takes significant time and effort, and is one of the prime factors that count towards its success. This is followed by implementation and execution of the plan, which principally deals with creating awareness among people about their roles and responsibilities during a recovery operation.

Depending on the intensity of the disasters, there will be different kinds of responses and action plans to handle the situation. For example, an unexpected hardware failure may call for backup systems to plunge into action, while a lightning strike may demand diverting of calls. Therefore, the effectiveness of a recovery plan for a call center depends on the availability of technology to reroute or handle calls after the emergency strikes.

Planning that will impact the events

While it is difficult to prevent a disaster completely, measures can be taken to reduce its impact to a significant level. The following best practices can help address the challenges in business continuity.

• Organizations should identify the ID critical systems that are necessary to maintain operations in call centers.
• They should analyze the level of support offered by external contractors so that there wouldn’t be a delay when some specific events call for on-site support.
• The DR plan should address the needs of people connected to a call center such as customers, agents, and vendors.
• With new technologies and systems getting on board each day, the DR plan should be updated in light of the same.
• Once the plan has been developed, mock tests should be conducted at specified intervals to achieve the intended results.

Identifying the risks

Failures in call center operations can sometimes lead to devastating consequences, hence an early assessment of risks can help in combating these situations. Of the many reasons that could impact a call center business, a few to name are traffic congestions, hardware and human errors. Bearing the brunt of these emergencies such as the downtimes and busy signals may be extremely difficult, as it affects the financial and operational health of an organization. The following list covers some of the potential threats to call center operations.

• The number of incoming calls getting reduced due to outage or service interruption.
• Inability to make quick changes to call routing depending on the situation
• Poor integration of CRM databases, predictive dialers and security applications
• Power outage or server failure resulting in loss of data and supporting information
• Absenteeism that will put pressure on other staffs to handle communications
• A failure in the Local Area Network due to technical issues

Testing the functionality

A business continuity plan should essentially cover three main areas namely people, processes, and technology. But unfortunately, an implemented technology can sometimes limit the business continuity plans due to lack of flexibility. Organizations should get system health checks done on regular intervals to make certain that everything works as required. They should conduct functionality tests of connectivity and security systems to ensure that the calls are routed to agents, even when any of the supporting elements fail to perform. Companies should also assign more than one IT person to handle administration and should train agents and supervisors on disaster recovery processes.