For larger companies, the contact center is a critical business system. These checklists, prepared by Roger Sumner, senior vice president of the Technology Office at Aspect Software, will help ensure that you ask the correct questions when planning for business continuity in this area.
First acknowledge that the term ‘disaster’ encompasses a lot of unpleasant possibilities. Get specific about the types of problems your contact center might face:
Facility disaster: The building is damaged
Facility downtime: Power is cut from the facility or personnel cannot get to the facility
Component disaster/downtime: One or more hardware components within a facility are destroyed or disabled
Application disaster/downtime: One or more software applications residing on hardware within the facility are destroyed or disabled
Data disaster: Data is corrupted or lost
Network disaster: Data networks are compromised or disabled
Security disaster: Company security for internal information is breeched and data is destroyed or modified.
A comprehensive disaster recovery plan needs to encompass processes and solutions that will address each type of potential problem.
Ask the right technology questions…
So how do you know if your disaster recovery plan is current and meeting management’s expectations? ‘Disaster recovery’ means different things to different people, but whether your definition focuses on high system availability, system recovery, or system redundancy, it’s important to look at both the technology you have in place and the processes around that technology.
Before you can develop an effective disaster recovery plan, you need to answer these questions about your contact center technology:
1. Is the system redundant within itself? Does it have redundant internal workings?
2. Is full redundancy required in a disaster situation?
3. Can you run two systems, one primary and one backup, in two different locations?
4. Can each of the systems – same location or not – be configured to handle the load for all transactions if one fails?
5. Would the two systems share the load under normal operation?
6. Does the system have a hot or cold standby if redundant concurrent systems are not desired/required?
7. Does the hot standby system automatically start in the case of failure, or is manual intervention required?
8. Can the cold standby system that is only called upon when primary technology fails and has regularly scheduled data backups can automatically be started in case of failure, or is manual intervention required?
Build people and processes into the plan…
It’s not enough though to have just the technology backed up. You also need to have processes in place for every possible type of disaster. For example:
- Do your contact center employees know what to do if business continuity is interrupted?
- Do they know where they should go to work, or if they have access to hosted applications that allow them to access contact center applications remotely from undamaged locations?
- Will there be agents in other geographic areas who can log in and service the affected areas?
- Are self-service applications required to free up agent resources for critical matters?
- Is someone charged with ensuring that your self-service options are automatically updated?
- Are scripting applications in place, and up to date, to allow for uniform customer service in case agents have to temporarily take on unfamiliar roles, and have agents been made aware of this possibility?
- Are customer relationship management applications in place, and up-to-date, that will allow access to uniform customer information, and have the agents been trained to use the applications?
Assistance in developing a contact center disaster recovery plan can be found with most contact center solutions vendors. They can provide guidance on how to manage redundancy or failover and recovery processes with your existing contact center technology, as well as help your organization document and categorize all of the contact centers and services your organization provides and determine the impact a disruption will have on those systems.
The contact center should also be sure to coordinate its disaster recovery plans with the rest of the organization. There may be some overlap, and it is important not to assume that another area of the business is taking care of supporting the systems that overlap with the contact center.
Also, if you are outsourcing any portion of your contact center initiatives, you must be sure that the outsourcer vendor has its own recovery plans in place. Sarbanes-Oxley, in the United States, requires organizations to provide evidence of business continuity plans and this includes vendor-provided services as well, including outsourcedservices.
The best disaster recovery plan is worthless if it isn’t updated continually and tested regularly. All too often, call centers invest large amounts of time, money, and other resources into developing a plan but make the mistake of ignoring the maintenance required to keep the plan effective and efficient. The financial impact of relying on an untested or outdated plan can be devastating.
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Since 2000, SCC Services Group has been successfully providing services to the Automotive, Banking, Financial Services, Travel, Telecommunication and Retail Call Center organizations. This depth of experience is complemented by our commitment to service excellence, a healthy corporate culture, and a highly skilled team. If you are interested in learning more about SCC Services Group consulting or business services offerings and how we can assist your organization improve its overall performance please send an email to: email@example.com