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Article : Irma and Harvey, Test Disaster Preparedness, Recovery and Business Continuity

#contactcenterworld, @taylor_reach

Irma and Harvey, Test Disaster Preparedness, Recovery and Business Continuity | The Taylor Reach Group Inc.

A disaster? It’ll never happen to your business or Contact Center. There hasn’t been a major storm in your area in living memory. That kind of stuff happens to centers in Tornado Alley and Key West, not where you are. Don’t be so sure—there are many kinds of disasters and any one of them could visit your center today.

Cheyenne, Wyoming is high plains desert, getting only 12 inches of rain a year. It was the last place you’d expect a flood. But on August 1, 1985, Cheyenne got more than six inches of rain in less than four hours, and the resulting flood killed 12, injured many more, and shut down many businesses for days or weeks.

In the 1950’s, the US Navy moved its entire fleet of planes from Pensacola, Florida, to Olathe, Kansas, the night before a predicted hurricane in Pensacola. The next day was beautiful in Pensacola…and a tornado hit Olathe and destroyed the fleet.

Disasters come in all shapes and sizes, and they are, by definition, unpredictable. In addition to weather, we can have lines cut, power outages, train derailments, flu epidemics, and so much more. Now is the time to prepare.

The three disasters over the last couple of weeks in Houston, Florida and Mexico highlight the need for a business continuity plan, sometimes known as a disaster recovery plan or outage plan. This is especially relevant to Contact Centers. While the impact of hurricanes on business is the most relevant right now, in consideration of Irma, Harvey, Jose, and Katia, when establishing a business continuity plan, there are many situations to consider:

a. Evacuation: Wildfires, floods, hurricanes, disease, and train or truck related collisions can all cause the need for evacuation. You will need to not only have an evacuation plan, you will also need to determine what treatment callers and contacts will receive during your evacuation process. For example, will caller be directed to a recorded message, will the calls be redirected to another center, will the calls be redirected to the same agents once they at a hot-site or other remote location(s), etc.

b. Power outages: Diesel powered generator, with battery backup to keep the computers up during those seconds before the generator kicks in. Test it regularly, have preventive maintenance done, keep it filled with fuel, and enter a contract with a company that can provide more fuel in a long-term outage. System outage: Backup systems in at least two different geographical areas, regular backups kept offsite in secure storage. Unable to reach the center for weather, infrastructure or health reasons: systems that allow work from home, with equipment like laptops and headsets available at a convenient location away from the center or at agents’ homes; contracts with backup centers that agents can travel to; agreements with companies whose agents can take your calls in a disaster. Remember that while some disasters may only last for a day or two, others could be weeks. How would 2 weeks without power impact your plan?

Considerations for Preparing a Business Continuity Plan:

1) Preplan for Disasters: Preplan what to do in each type of disaster. Consider the differences between being denied access to the office due to road blockage versus the office being non-functional, aka flooded. In one case, we had a direct experience with a client where the center was cut off by repeated snowfalls that stopped anyone from getting into the office for over a week. The office was functional but unreachable. But, since the firm had a work from home program running for many years, they did not have to move to their backup center over 2 hours away. Luck or good planning, you tell me.

2) Document Your Disaster Recovery Plan: Document, document, document the plan and make sure everyone knows their part. From who can declare an emergency, to who can authorize carriers to implement emergency routing, and of course who can or will declare an emergency over, and how will that be communicated to everyone.

3) Business Records: Make sure to have offsite or cloud records, preferably electronic and available on a moments notice. For Call and Contact Centers (CC’s), this means the Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) and other systems should be available to you in locations other than head office. If you can already work from home, you already have the infrastructure to do this.

4) Redundancy is Mandatory: Does the data center provide redundancy with another center not anywhere near either the office or data center? If not, get one. Without the data, your business is dead in a few days or weeks at the longest. This is your best insurance and protection in order to stay in business.

5) Establish Disaster Recovery Impacting All Business Factors: Disaster recovery plans typically include the following:

a. Facilities – an emergency power generator, an alternate site
b. Network and Systems – rerouting of calls, backup systems (database backup)
c. People – evacuation, an emergency advice system
d. Service levels – planning IVR changes, rerouting of calls

6) Calculate the Cost of Being Out of Business: Calculating the impact of being out of business provides context and guidance to developing recovery plans. In revenue-producing environments, the cost of being out of business is to put into economic terms. Factors to consider:

a. Direct loss of productivity

b. Indirect loss of productivity

c. The impact on the queue, telecom and handling time

d. Loss of revenues, clients, staff

7) Informed Employees: Ensure all employees know the plan and what they can and should do, when.

8) Emergency Messaging for Employees: Establish an emergency IVR/Auto messaging or collaboration tool to reach out to and coordinate with all current employees with timely and critical information; from the basic, ‘Don’t come into work’ to ‘All clear, return to work in X days’. Messages can include assembling points or locations to continue working etc. Some systems can be set up to dial each employee to ask their status and whether or not they can work, are they OK etc.

9) Emergency Messaging for Clients: Provide emergency messaging for all clients, callers etc. across all channels in advance of needing them. Check and trial this works before using it. Most suppliers are happy to do a quarterly test of emergency routing of calls or message intercepts during both work and non-work hours. Be proactive. The more detailed information you can provide the better; don’t leave your customers guessing. Utilize multi-recipient/bulk channels. Reach as many customers as you can before they attempt to reach out to you and clog your 1:1 channels. Make sure front facing customer channels like your websites and their links work. This is not the time to have dead-end links or incorrect contact information posted.

10) Long-Term Plans: Provision for a loss of the complete office and center for the long term. Where will you move, when and under what conditions?

Where Disaster Recovery Plans Err:

There are times when disaster recovery plans are put in place, however, they still seem to fumble in miscalculations.

a. Ensure your disaster recovery plan considers the worst-case scenario. Only having 2 days’ worth of fuel for your generator won’t do if a hurricane can knock out power for a week or more.

b. The alternate site is geographically too close to the main site. In situations such as natural disasters, it is important to consider where your alternative location is in respect to the main site and the likelihood of the secondary location receiving similar impact to ultimately cause postponement of operations.

c. Practice makes perfect. Much like we practiced fire-drills in school, it is important to practice implementation of a disaster recovery plan, systems, processes, and protocols. One outsourcer we know redirected calls between two geographically diverse centers quarterly as a live test of re-routing and to ensure a level of proficiency. This will ensure a smoother flow in actual times of emergency. Have a plan C, &

D. Disaster Recovery is never fully tested until the disaster happens and by then it will be too late to rethink or reassign assets.

Proper planning is essential to a smooth and effective business continuity plan. Don’t allow your center to be a victim, plan and prepare for disasters and you and your employees can survive and continue to support your customers and clients.

#contactcenterworld, @taylor_reach

About Colin Taylor:
For the past 33 years Colin has worked in the call and contact center industry starting as a agent, Today he assists clients improve the operation effectiveness and customer satisfaction achieved by their centers. A frequent speaker and author more than 100 articles on call and contact center operations.

About The Taylor Reach Group:
Company LogoThe Taylor Reach Group is a call center and contact center consultants specializing in customer experience consulting and call and contact center consulting, management, performance, technologies, site selection, tools and assessments. All we do is customer experience and contact center consulting: strategic and tactical. Our contact center and customer experience consultants have helped management in hundreds of contact centers and organizations achieve – and exceed – their business goals.
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Today's Tip of the Day - Loyalty Versus Satisfaction

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Wednesday, November 8, 2017

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2023 Buyers Guide Computer Telephony Integration

Premium Listing
Call Center Studio

Call Center Studio
Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.

AMC Technology

DaVinci provides Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) to a library of pre-built applications + UXiPaaS (User Experience Integration Platform as a Service) built specifically for contact centers. As contact center needs evolve, organizations need to have access to extend or create new functionality, without waiting to be a part of a software roadmap. Get the benefits of CTI within your CRM like screen pop, click-to-dial, screen transfer, speed dial and more, but future-proof your contact center so you can expand and integrate how and when you want.

ComSys S.A.

CLink for CRM and Call Center Integration
CLink by Comsys is a middleware that connects in real-time the CRM and the contact center applications. CLink enhances the CRM with interaction management capabilities from the contact center that allow agents to work more productively across all communication channels.
Comsys is a provider of οmnichannel customer engagement solutions that assist companies around the world in delivering unique customer experiences. For the last 15 years, Comsys designs and implements complex projects for clients from the outsourcing, financial services, telecommunications, and retail sectors. Comsys enjoys strategic partnerships with technology vendors like Cisco®, Aspect Software®, and Microsoft® for the delivery of innovative interaction management and contact center optimization solutions.

Consilium Software

Consilium UniAgent™
Today’s call centers need their agents to work more naturally, and respond better and faster. Here, we talk about the innovations Consilium has made with the latest desktop and mobile agent releases of the UniAgent™ CRM connector. From small enterprises to Fortune 500 companies and governments across 110 countries, UniAgent™ comes into action right at the moment of reckoning, making every contact center experience engaging and personalized, powered by simplified customer identification and anticipating customer needs.
UniAgent™ provides CRM integrations between all the Cisco contact center solutions (UCCX, PCCE, UCCE and HCS-CC) and over 20 CRMs, such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics 365...
(read more)

IntraNext Systems

IntraNext Systems develops agent efficiency tools and data security software solutions for medium-to-large contact centers. Our Event Intelligence® Platform solutions include SmartCTI™, iGuard®, and SmartSIP™. SmartSIP is based on our patented SIP layer technology and provides a DTMF masking solution for VoIP environments.


CRM integration
We know how important it is for a business to obtain data from its customers and to manage them effectively, so we help small to large companies by integrating their CRM with the Virtual Switchboard.

This type of integration will simplify the work of your team and improve the management performance of the contact list and its information.


NovelVox CTI Connector
NextGen Cisco Finesse, Genesys & Avaya Embedded CTI Connectors for Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, ServiceNow, Zendesk & more.


What is PhoneIQ?
PhoneIQ is the modern cloud phone system and contact center platform built exclusively for companies on Salesforce. Our all-in-one cloud communications platform brings together power dialing, local presence, voicemail drop, Salesforce call routing, call recording and a complete PBX replacement that lives within your CRM. With support for desktop, mobile, and desk phones, PhoneIQ works seamlessly at the office or remote, logging all interactions in Salesforce and generating reports in real-time.

Best For
Companies using Salesforce and looking for a phone system, dialer, or contact center software that provides deep integration capabilities with their CRM and expert Salesforce support.


Easy Contact Center Traffic Analytics (Ec2Traffic)
Prilink Ec2Traffic provides network traffic analytics (NTA) for Internet, SIP Trunk and WebRTC traffic for on-premises and cloud Contact Centers.

Ec2Traffic analyzes network layer 2 to 4, RTP and SRTP packet loss and SIP protocols in real-time from the demarcation point or network edge, generating NTA metadata and requires little telemetry bandwidth.

Ec2Traffic provides:

- Year-round NTA metadata

- Daily CSV files upload to Customer business applications

- Capture packet to Wireshark for Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)

- detect traffic anomalies

- and more ....

Teckinfo Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

InterDialog UCCS
InterDialog UCCS - a robust contact/ call center software that helps organizations provide a seamless customer experience across all channels in the customer service journey. All interactions from various channels come to a single unified queue on the InterDialog platform. With unified view agents get to see all historical interactions , enabling him to give a resolution quickly. InterDialog UCCS is a comprehensive Contact/Call Center Software with robust CTI, Unified Q ( ACD), Reporting, Unified Agent Management, Administrator, Supervisor - Monitoring (Pmonitor)

The Primas Group

Primas CX
Primas CX is a CTI-based contact center enhancement suite that takes your contact center software to the next level.
It provides a set of tools that every contact center needs, over and above their vendor features.

*Advanced Call Back in Queue & SMS in Queue
*Agent Screen Pop
*Chatbot Automation
*Welcome Back Greeting
*Post Contact Survey
*Dropped Call Reconnect
*Digital Front Door & Many more

As a Vendor Agnostic ISV, we pride ourselves on delivering the best COTS & Custom solutions for any contact center in any industry.


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