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Call Center Trends Create Integrated Contingency Planning Opportunities

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Your call center is the lifeblood of your business, serving as a conduit to receive and send vital information between you and your customers. It’s also a source of revenue you can’t afford to go without. The complexity of today’s call centers creates an environment where many different failures can affect the system’s operations.

Data, hardware, software, and networking systems must all be running for call centers to operate properly. And should disaster strike, businesses need all of these systems functioning while keeping the workforce safe. As the landscape of the call center business changes, contingency planning is becoming a little easier. These changes also create opportunities for integrating other business objectives into your disaster recovery plan.

Call Centers Vital to Customer Experience

According to Oracle’s recent report, “Global Insights on Succeeding in the Customer Experience Era,” 97 percent of executives say customer experience is critical to success and failing in this area leads to a 20 percent loss in business.

Although customers are increasingly satisfied with automated interactions, speaking to a real human is still important to them when they have more complex concerns. These channels are also better opportunities to cross sell company products and services than automation and online channels. You must have contingency planning in place should you experience service disruptions from problems with hardware, software, or networking.

The Changing Landscape of Call Center Operations

For many call centers, technological constraints make it difficult to provide the flexibility and agility they need to service their customers well. Outdated systems don’t work well in an increasingly interconnected world. Yet, a 2013 CFIGroup survey shows that nearly half the customers it spoke to prefer chat, email, or other online communications. In addition, almost 40 percent of respondents said they have used social media when they had a customer concern, more than double of those surveyed the year before.

This represents an effective opportunity for leveraging web-based technologies, both as customer experience conduits and business continuity options. Turning to solutions that integrate online communications will be vital going forward.

Working arrangements are also changing for call centers. More call centers employ telecommuting representatives as a way to boost productivity and save on operating costs. This creates an expanding and dispersed call center structure. Increasingly, “call centers” are looking more like “customer communications networks.”

Contingency Planning Solutions for Today’s Call Centers

All of this leads to some inescapable conclusions. First, call centers that remain centralized put their business at greater risk for disruption. If a disaster hits, the company must rely on localized solutions to continue operations during a disaster. By embracing the trend of teleworking, companies put themselves in a position to continue operations and offer safe working conditions, without having to hire an outside firm to handle its calls should an emergency occur. This results in happier and more productive workers, too – undeniably a profitable benefit.

Second, call centers need to bring their technologies up to date. They should be embracing and integrating social media communications channels. Not only does this provide an alternative communications tool should phone networks fail, but it also offers unique customer satisfaction opportunities that also broadcast a company’s brand, image, and customer service performance to the world. With the use of social media, your business gets a free boost in PR and advertising.

Finally, give customers the opportunity to use chats, texts, and emails for inquiries. Smart phones are ubiquitous. Your communications must be ready and willing to embrace messages from these devices.

Integrating Call Center Changes Into Your Disaster Recovery Plan

Contingency planning should be reviewed and tested frequently – annually at the very least. Your next review should include ways to leverage an expanding network as an affordable disaster recovery solution with other business benefits.

  • Look into the feasibility of telework for employees as a way to keep call centers running should a disaster befall your call center location. Employ workers in different parts of the country to ensure you have a way to interact with your customers no matter where disaster strikes.

  • Because customers expect to communicate with you through whichever channel they choose, find ways to ensure representatives can communicate through all messaging platforms, not just phone.

  • Increase mobility for your workers with satellite-connected laptops versus hardwired desktop computers. This lets them continue extending all avenues of communication to customers while working from anywhere they may be when disaster strikes.

Of course, these plans mean nothing if all your representatives can do is field calls, take a message, and make a note to call back once your data center comes back online. Ensure your representatives always have access to vital data through information backup and security solutions like Quorum’s hybrid cloud solution. With vital data in the cloud, representatives have access to the information they need, no matter where they are. Request a quote to learn more!

 

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