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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.

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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 - Choose Your Rota!

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

Published: Wednesday, November 8, 2017

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2021 Buyers Guide Workforce Management

Aspect Software

Aspect Workforce Management
Aspect Workforce Management is an award-winning, best-of-breed software solution for enterprise contact centers, designed to help managers accurately and easily forecast staffing requirements to ensure the right agents are available at the right times, across all customer-facing inbound, outbound, blended and back office resources. Taking into account factors such as skill levels, scheduling constraints, regulatory labor restrictions, demand and service level objectives, Aspect Workforce Management helps businesses achieve contact center SLAs at the lowest possible labor cost, while improving both agent engagement and the customer experience.

Agents can also manage their scheduling need...
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PH: 1-888-547-2481


Calabrio ONE
Calabrio ONE offers contact centres the complete toolset to unlock the tremendous value buried within customer interaction data and use it to transform the entire business. One seamless solution combines a fully integrated workforce optimization suite with powerful voice-of-the-customer analytics tools deployed—in the cloud, on-premises, or in a hybrid environment.

Capture every customer interaction across all channels. Extract predictive and prescriptive insights. Elevate customer experiences, improve employee engagement and increase operational efficiency. Then, extend customer-centric strategies across the business to accelerate sales, drive innovation and move your business forward.

ethosIQ, LLC

BPO Optimizer
ethosIQ’s Business Process Outsourcer (BPO) Optimizer allows clients to manage their vendor contact center resources without requiring manual intervention through our manufacture-agnostic data collector processes. ethosIQ collects schedule and exception data, based on your desired parameters. Collection of data is transparent and doesn’t require intervention from either you or your vendor resource. You know your needs, and now you can manage those needs effectively, efficiently and effortlessly, using ethosIQ’s BPO Optimizer!
PH: 2816165711

Lieber & Associates

Technology Consulting Services
Lieber & Associates provides consulting services to select, contract for, test, implement, and optimize workforce management systems. It's technology consultants have worked with all major systems and many smaller ones. Counsel is informed by several decades of WFM experience.
PH: +1-773-325-0608

MFE International

Agyletime Cloud Workforce Management
Agyletime is an enterprise grade true Cloud WFM and t is channel agnostic .
Its ease to Use , easier onboarding, forecasting and better scheduling.
You can integrate to CRMs such as SFDC, Zendesk, ServiceNow and others and to telephony systems such as AVAYA, CISCO, Genesys and other cloud telephony systems ; to independent Chat systems to aggregate data for WFM omnichannel forecasting, scheduling, optimisation and reporting.
PH: 96386615

Noble Systems

Noble ShiftTrack WFM
Maximize the efficiency of your contact center and meet/exceed customer expectations with workforce engagement tools that help you accurately forecast workloads, match the right resources to your needs and keep agents motivated. More than just scheduling agents and tracking shifts, Noble’s ShiftTrack WEM solutions optimize labor costs, manage capacity more effectively and improve service levels.
PH: +61 (0) 3.9008.1700

OpsTel Services

The SPEED solution solves for service level issues while cost optimizing the environment with automation.

Provides an enhanced way to speed up & optimize invoking temporary agent skills configuration changes into the contact center environment.

Speed allows you to schedule both future changes & temporary changes that auto-revert back to the original state when scheduled time expires.

Speed features:

*Automated / Scheduled Temporary Agent Skills Configuration Management
*Immediate Temporary or Reoccurring Schedule Skills Configuration Changes
*Easy to Use/Operations Administration Focused
*Descriptive Monitoring Activity Dashboard
*Detailed “End to End’ Audit Trail and Perfor...
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PH: 1+480-435-9390


Track staff performance, capture meaningful feedback and deliver quality customer experiences using Phonestat. Our cloud based solution allows you to create simple scorecards to provide instant feedback and training to your staff.

There are powerful integrations to source interactions from anywhere and an open API to allow you to build your own.


VADS Workforce Management
VADS Workforme Magaement is a smart tools that gives connectivity to the workers while working remotely. An intelligent workforce management system that aims to improve operation efficiency with the end goal to provide first.
PH: 0217991445

QPC Ltd.

QPC WFM - Calabrio/Teleopti Specialism
QPC has a long and successful history of delivering tried and tested innovative workforce management systems, and the training and consultancy needed to ensure organisations can leverage the customer service and operational efficiency benefits workforce management principles and automated workforce management systems can deliver.

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