Article : Five Tips to Prepare Your Contact Centers for Weather-Related Emergencies
Every year tropical storms hit the coast lines of the United States causing billions of dollars worth of damages to cities, and a lengthy restoration process for those communities affected by the storm. Unfortunately, this year is no different as millions of Americans recover after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Preparing contact centers for weather-related emergencies is a complex, multi-pronged strategy that effects all industries (especially public utility companies, power companies, local municipalities, schools and hospitals). Below are five tips to help prepare your contact centers for unexpected weather-related emergencies:
- Create An Emergency Action Plan
It’s not easy to forge connectivity while performing under the worst conditions; therefore, it’s imperative to have a pre-existing plan in place for those responding to the situation both on the ground and digitally. If your company hasn’t created a formal emergency action plan/procedure for responding to weather-related crises, start drafting one as soon as possible. If you have a plan already established, make sure to review and revise said plan on an annual/bi-annual basis to ensure your technology, tactics and procedures are up to date. In addition to drafting and establishing an emergency action plan with your staff, schedule routine trainings on how to effectively activate and execute the emergency action plan.
- Invest In The Right Communication Tools
Don’t wait until a natural disaster to invest in the appropriate communication tools to reach and respond to customers and/or clients in a time of crisis. When researching contact center features, consider the following capabilities:
- Call targeting - Create a customized list of customers to contact (or not contact) in a specific geographic area affected by inclement weather.
- Instant callback – Return calls to a designated telephone number by pressing a single key on your telephone keypad.
- Remote access and deployment - The ability to deploy a message at any time, from any location, using only a phone to record and send a broadcast with the cloud technology.
- Real-time reporting - Immediately know which customers have received your message and which calls should be attempted again.
- Be On Top of Your Data
Before an emergency occurs, establish a protocol to ensure all databases are up to date and complete. In a time of crisis, information needs to be accurate and direct in order to save time and resources. Additionally, data should be backed up in more than just one place, and employees should have alternative ways for remotely accessing the information.
- Ongoing Communication with Customers
Consumers are accustomed to obtaining information when they need it, even in the midst of an historic weather event. Receiving up-to-date information during a weather-related emergency is not only desirable, it’s expected. In order to effectively conduct outreach to customers either during or after a storm, compile detailed customer profiles that outline the best available communication channels for each customer. Customers must be able to receive instant updates about their situation directly. In these circumstances, ongoing, proactive and honest communication is the best policy for interacting with customers to minimize hysteria. Communicating quickly, efficiently and accurately during a weather event or other crisis requires a speedy procedure and a systematic way to deliver thousands of messages within minutes.
- Omnichannel Outreach
In today’s digital world, contact centers need to be made aware of all alternative ways to contact customers (other than cold calling) during a state of emergency. Knowing your customer’s preferred method of contact (i.e. text, email, call, social media, etc.) can be abundantly helpful for getting in contact with customers before, during or after a storm. In previous years, contact centers utilized social media to interact and engage with customers during weather-related emergencies. For example, during Hurricane Sandy, twitter became a major source of news and information for those who had no power but were able to access the social media site on their mobile devices. Other effective ways to contact customers during natural disasters include the use of cloud-based omnichannel technologies such as voicemail drop, short message service (SMS), email blasting and chat features. Omnichannel solutions provide companies with the ability to connect and engage with customers in a non-invasive manner, allowing them to listen/read, respond and save messages at their own convenience.
Is your business ready to withstand the next storm? Before the next one hits the United States, consider implementing some of the tips and strategies outlined above to enable your contact center to seamlessly engage with your customers and enhance communication efforts during a crisis.
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