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Don’t Leave Tech Support to Chance during an Unplanned Event

Although rare, disruptions to technical support services caused by an unforeseen event do occur. Whether a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, flood or fire or a manmade event, such as workplace violence, power outage or overly successful product launch; an unexpected event is likely to occur at some point for your contact center. Regardless of the reason, response must be swift and definitive to minimize brand impairment and to preserve customer relationships.
The failure of technology or damage to facilities that interrupts business operations must be planned for in advance. Advance planning done jointly with your technical support and services provider will allow for improved day-to-day operations, as well.
Consider the following scenarios:

  • A faulty server creates a systems outage that prevents thousands of users from accessing their accounts with your company.
  • A newly discovered bug in a tech product causes a 150% spike in call volume.
  • A storm takes out power to your tech support contact center. Restoration is predicted to be at least four-days out.

Each of the above is a real scenario that played out for companies that had hoped to be immune to such events. The ability of their outsourced services provider to respond quickly based on defined escalation criteria developed in collaboration with the company helped to mitigate the impact of the interruptions to service.

Four Things to Plan for:

  • Unplanned, sustained spikes in call volume. In the case of scenarios one above, the spikes in volume will last until the systems outage is restored. In the case of scenario two, it could take even longer for a resolution to the bug to be released.

Sustaining long periods of high call volume will require all hands on deck. Aside from team managers and trainers being assigned to high priority queues and having agents work overtime and calling in off-duty resources, does your contact center vendor have additional agents at another site that can quickly ramp or virtual agents that can provide supplemental services during the event? Has a quick-start training coupled with intense account supervision and coaching been put in place to ensure speed to proficiency for supplemental resources?

  • Rerouting Inbound Calls. In the case of scenario three, calls will need to be rerouted to an alternative site. Temporary transfer of existing trained agents to the alternative site will also need to be orchestrated until the power is restored.
  • Alternatives and Workarounds. For scenario two, the tech support agents will need to have expertise from a product subject matter expert to provide alternatives and workarounds, depending on the extent of the impact from the bug. How quickly they can be trained and become proficient at nullifying your customer’s frustrations and dissatisfaction will be reflected in the health of your customer relationships.
  • Social Backlash. When customers feel an impact to service, they can now leverage online social platforms to vent or comment on their experiences. Even if your contact center vendor provides social media support services, they should coordinate handling the social posts with your corporate social media team. Arguably, the contact center has the most experience in calming frustrated customers and can provide the best guidance and support for your social media marketing team to contain and even reverse the sentiment in social media with proactive responsiveness. Consistency in response will leave a positive impression that can diminish the dissatisfaction from service interruption.

Advanced Planning Improves Day-to-Day Performance

The benefits of advance planning extend far beyond responding to service interruption events. Collaborating with your vendor on the criteria and processes for escalation during an event will also shine the light on day-to-day operations that can help to identify areas for improvement. Although many companies are hesitant to put the time and effort into planning for business continuity, the payoffs to current operations can make it well worth the effort. And, when that event that only happens to other companies happens to you, your customers may not even be aware you’ve had an outage.