DR/BC Plans to Mitigate the Impact of Pandemics on Contact Centers
As the Coronavirus and the heightened risk of a pandemic fills the news headlines, service organizations must be prepared to keep operating if their region is stricken. Many companies have disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) plans to address the ability to operate if a major disruption were to occur. Healthcare organizations must be particularly prepared for a disruptive disease outbreak, but all businesses should establish plans for resuming operations as quickly as possible following a public health disaster. Some companies may have developed plans to cope with the impact of a major pandemic, but few companies have had the opportunity to test and refine those strategies.
Planning for business continuity in case of a pandemic is different from preparing for a natural disaster scenario. In the case of weather-related disasters, the main consideration is often employees’ safety when driving to the workplace; for a pandemic, however, the main issue may be people’s reluctance to leave home at all. It’s not fair for companies to require their contact center staff or other service employees to report to work under these circumstances, when other departments may be advised that it’s unsafe to come to the office.
It’s important for businesses to have a documented DR/BC plan that addresses healthcare emergency scenarios. The plan should set appropriate expectations for workers and inform staff members how to stay in touch with the business if they are unwilling or unable to comply with the contingency plans – self-service solutions are an excellent way to accomplish this. If workers cannot be on-site to support business continuity, they should be encouraged to work from home. This reinforces the need for companies to invest in cloud-based solutions that can be operated from numerous locations, including employees’ homes.
To mitigate the risk of leaving job functions unsupported during a widespread health crisis, it’s a best practice to establish a structure where managers and supervisors share responsibilities, especially having them in geographically redundant locations. Likewise, companies should establish two carriers, if possible, as it doubles the chances of keeping the organization in touch with its customers; this is true even for companies using cloud-based infrastructure. All systems should be pre-programmed, ready to be deployed, and capable of being activated from a remote location.
Another best practice for pandemic preparation is, of course, to stay in close touch with public health officials. Senior resources within the organizations should be assigned to coordinate with health authorities and be prepared to follow their instructions. Additionally, the staff should be trained to know what is expected of them in a health-scare scenario, which should include running of drills to ensure readiness. A partial test of the plan and infrastructure should be run quarterly, to make sure that everything works as intended.
Preparation is key to ensuring that a business can stay open and be able to help customers (or patients), even in the midst of a healthcare challenge. Equally important, though, is the need to address employees’ needs and concerns during a health crisis, so that they can remain healthy and safe while keeping the business running as smoothly as possible.
DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at www.dmgconsult.com.