Contact Center Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Strategies

Customer contact organizations are at the heart of business continuity and disaster recovery strategies, as they are the go-to resource for customers in times of disaster. A new report from Frost & Sullivan looks at these important organizational assets and explores the specific business continuity and disaster recovery relating to them.

"The importance of information during times of such distress has made a strong case for advanced and multilayered business continuity and disaster recovery methods," said Frost & Sullivan information and communication technologies industry analyst Brendan Read, in a statement. "This enables contact centers to plan, respond and recover from natural and man-made disasters."

Customer contact organizations face two challenges when devising and implementing effective business continuity and disaster recovery programs. The first is balancing the potential risks and losses from adversity and the investments needed for putting in place effective BC/DR solutions. The second challenge pertains to enterprises' lack of motivation to deploy these solutions due to the unpredictability of these events.

"While an enterprise should be able to construct an impact model based on potential lost sales and productivity, the case may weaken when it comes to factoring in probabilities," said Read. "The investment in the solution is based on acceptable risk, which is hard to determine without solid data about the likelihood of occurrences."

The business continuity and disaster recovery solutions that will find the highest uptake are those that support customers, employees, and operations and yet minimize capital investments and operational costs.

Some of the methods to achieve this include selecting sites away from vulnerable areas, ‘multishoring,’ enabling employees to work from home, placing applications and data in the cloud, employing multiple backup and response tools and channels, alerting customers through proactive customer contact, and improving contact center access control.

Effective business continuity and disaster recovery depends on the development and maturity of cloud/hosting to supply and support applications and data. The solution's success also rides on cloud vendors' deployment of redundancy, including active-active server backup, geo-redundancy, and onsite generators.

For business continuity and disaster recovery to be wholly functional, wireless communication should be prevalent. While social media has proven to be a useful alerting and interaction tool, it is effective only if the recipients have Internet access. Nevertheless, even with Internet access, the bandwidth can fluctuate wildly in the aftermath of a disaster. Hence, there is a huge need for a multilayered approach, such as inbound and outbound IVR and SMS/text.

Apart from these external threats, contact centers also must prepare for employee violence, especially aggression against women. This is all the more relevant in the light of the fact that women account for more than two-thirds of customer service representatives. Furthermore, contact centers will do well to initiate military veterans into the workforce, as they have proven abilities to assess and respond to sudden and difficult situations.

"The incremental costs of providing full business continuity versus business disruption also should be considered," said Read. "Finally, all business continuity and disaster recovery strategies depend on how well these plans are drafted and kept up-to-date, and how effectively the staff is trained to handle them. These measures must also include methods to protect their most important assets, which are their employees."