Ancy's Blog

Disaster in Call Center Services

Posted on: July 28, 2009

Disaster affects not only weather, call centers can also be affected by lightning, fire, water damage, telephone and electrical outages, and other natural and man-made catastrophes.  All can impact your center, but the bigger impact may be on your callers.

Disaster

How to prevent this?

First of all, good planning and communication are essential.  No one expects a problem, but if one occurs, a center should be prepared.  Trying to cope with an outage or worse, without prior planning, can be disastrous for a medical call center.

Where do you begin?

Start with involving your staff in preparing a detailed plan. They can help identify specific areas of your business and clients that need to be addressed in case of an emergency.  Then, perform regular system backups.  Depending on your call center’s needs, once a week might be an acceptable practice schedule.  Those who are “critical”, such as medical and emergency-type calls, should back up their system more often; maybe even daily.  Store the back-up information away from your main call center.  Alert your managers and key staff as to where it is and what to do if there is a need to use the backup.

Electrical outages due to lightning and power interruptions can be a problem.  Make sure you have reliable back-up power.  Test the back-up power system at least once a month.  It is not uncommon for batteries and other parts of the system to fail over time.   Be sure to replace batteries according to your manufacturer’s recommended schedule. Again, make sure your managers know what to do if you lose power.  If the power goes out for an extended period of time, you may have to supplement your battery-based power back-up unit with a generator.  Not all off-the-shelf generators will meet the power needs of a call center. You may need to run the power through a line conditioner to minimize power spikes, surges, and variations in voltage..

Having remote agents may also be part of your plan.  Inclement weather could prevent call center agents from traveling to a central location.  Staff members who have the ability to work from home would still be able to process calls and provide your callers with the service they expect.  Remote stations can work via direct telephone lines or over the Internet.  Some system manufactures provide both options.  Neither can be set up on short notice.  Plan ahead and have the capabilities in place before an emergency so that remote access is available when you need it.

Keep in touch with your power company and telephone company.  Have key contact information readily available.  Make sure your managers know how to contact them in case of an emergency.  If you rent or lease space, make sure you work with the property manager so you can get immediate access to the power relay area and the telephone junction area.  Make sure you have adequate insurance to cover fire, water, or electrical problems that could cripple or destroy your system and operations.

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