Contact Center Disaster Planning and Recovery
What It Is
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plans are used to mitigate the effects that service disruptions will have on customers. These disruptions may be caused by natural disasters; power, equipment, or transportation systems failures; or by other unexpected events.
The terms Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity are often used interchangeably, but disaster recovery refers to specific steps taken to resume operations in the aftermath of a catastrophic natural disaster or national emergency. Business Continuity addresses more comprehensive planning that focuses on long-term or chronic challenges, like illness, departure of key team members, etc.
Why It's Important
A contact center is the focal point of your customer interactions. Customers expect to be able to reach you during the hours your services are available. Regardless of the size of your center, you should have a disaster recovery and business continuity plan in place in case an emergency or unscheduled event causes a disruption to your operation. Maintaining business continuity in the event of disruptions will reassure your customers of your commitment to serving them at all times, even during crises.
How To Implement
Here are the key things to include in your disaster recovery and business continuity plan:
- Critical systems and functions—Make a list of critical systems and support operations functions, such as: network services, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), Automatic Call Distributor (ACD), email and Web chat systems, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and other application systems, electrical power systems, Information Technology (IT) and Human Resources (HR) support, and the physical facility.
- Back-up and failover arrangements—Define back–up and failover arrangements for each critical system and support function, and who will be responsible for implementation.
- Roles and responsibilities—Identify the team responsible for executing the plan as well as the teams responsible for back–up and failover procedure implementation, and critical system and support function recovery. Define each team's roles and responsibilities.
- Emergency contacts list including phone numbers and email addresses—Compile, and update frequently, a list of key personnel responsible for execution of the plan, implementing back–up and failover procedures, and recovery of critical systems and support functions.
- Detection, notification and escalation procedures—Describe how critical systems and support function failures will be detected and analyzed, and which actions will be taken to notify teams to begin the damage assessment process.
- Damage assessment procedures—Define how damage assessment will be conducted immediately after the outage, and for long–term recovery, and the procedures to communicate results to the teams.
- Criteria for plan activation—Identify a set of "trigger" criteria that will activate the plan.
- Recovery procedures—Define the recovery process implementation for each critical system and support function, including: recovery solutions, team actions, and goals and timelines.
- Restoration procedures—Define how failed systems and support functions will be restored to their original states.
- Procedures for plan validation—Describe the frequency of and processes for testing the recovery procedures for each system and support function and documenting the results to validate effectiveness of the recovery procedures.
The best practices for disaster recovery and business continuity planning are:
- Provide back–up and automatic failover for critical systems. Provide diverse routing on network access where feasible so that a cut cable does not cut–off customer access.
- Provide site diversity if your contact center is mission critical and/or if your contact volume or coverage areas warrant multi–site deployment.
- Leverage network carriers' capabilities to route calls quickly to the alternate site(s).
- Invest in a monitoring system to provide early detection of failures.
- Designate a team responsible for execution of the disaster recovery and business continuity plan.
- Keep your plan and emergency contacts list up–to–date at all times.
- Train key personnel in their emergency response and recovery roles.
- Practice recovery process execution on a regular basis; note and communicate results and areas needing improvement to recovery teams.
- Set priority and performance goals during the recovery period and communicate those to your customers.