Have you ever wondered what would happen if your business had a catastrophic IT or voice service failure? Or, more worryingly if not, do you know if your company even has a disaster recovery plan (DRP) in place for any IT or voice services if a failure was to happen? If the organisation you work for has failed to plan, then they are planning to fail.
More often than not, your company already has a disaster recovery plan in place for their IT service, such as the daily back-up of data and a number of written procedures that are in place to restore failed pieces of hardware, should you ever need to. But what happens when your voice services are disrupted?
Any number of events can occur to make your office voice services unusable — from builders accidentally cutting through cables during road works, to an epidemic that results in high staff absenteeism, or even a natural disaster that damages your office. When your staff are unable to answer the phones, business grinds to a halt.
Ensuring your business has an effective communication and collaboration strategy in place in order for business continuity for both your internal teams and customers is vital. It allows you to keep your customers happy – no matter what keeps you from opening the office. So what communication platforms should you consider when creating an effective disaster recovery plan?
Unified communications (UC) platform
Ensuring your internal teams can keep communicating is crucial – understanding the breadth of services your internal teams use to collaborate with each other, such as IM, conferencing and file sharing applications is important. Rationalising these services into a single unified communications platform not only reduces the burden and complexity of maintaining these services, but also reduces the risk of one of them failing.
A good UC platform will keep conversation flowing, enable better customer support and help boost staff morale whilst working remotely.
A business grade mobile service is also a key consideration. Your employees will have a wide range of requirements from their mobile service, from using it to make and receive calls, to it becoming a potential source of connectivity should their home broadband fail. Factor in what your service provider offers – are they focused entirely on businesses? What is their UK wide coverage like? Can they provide the data bundles you require?
Also consider your service wrap – do you have a dedicated account manager to help when things aren’t working or when you need to implement change quickly?
If the person(s) who normally answer your phones aren’t in the office, make sure there are others available who can take on that role. They should be trained on how calls are routed throughout your organisation, as well as how to correctly operate any applications or portals involved in the process.
IVRs can always answer calls without any human intervention required. Having an IVR will let your customers route their own calls if they cannot be answered by a person.
If your company still makes use of traditional analogue or ISDN lines, moving to SIP trunking will provide a large range of voice DRP options. SIP trunking solutions will often allow calls to automatically failover to a secondary office location if your primary office is offline. For companies with a single office location, calls can be diverted to a mobile or any other number to ensure they can still be answered.
Inbound call management services
Alongside SIP, consider implementing a self-serve call management solution that allow companies to set up and control how calls are routed to their business. This means that any necessary changes can be made, quickly and easily, via an online portal. The last thing you want to be doing in the event of an emergency is sitting on hold, waiting for your phone provider to make changes for you — some changes to legacy ISDN lines can even take days to be implemented!
Some companies still have PBX equipment at their office locations that handle call routing, voicemail, IVRs and call queues. If your PBX is unavailable, many of the call routing features that you depend on can be lost if calls are then diverted to another location. This can be confusing and frustrating for customers calling in. A hosted PBX solution removes these features from the on-premise equipment and instead hosts them in the cloud. With a hosted PBX, your customers receive the same call flow no matter what’s happening at your office locations.
In addition, most hosted PBX services allow your phones to connect to the service from anywhere — so if you have a disaster, your staff can plug a phone in at home, or access the service via a softphone on their desktop or mobile app, and keep working.
What to do if you are unsure of your options?
Speak with your service provider to see what business continuity options are available to you – each business is different, and they can look at tailored solutions for you. Once you have identified any required solutions, ensure they are put into place. Lastly, take all of your voice DRP documentation and ensure that the people involved in executing the plan have read and understood it. Make sure a copy of the plan is stored somewhere safe and can be accessed should your office become inaccessible.