Let’s face it: There are bound to be unpredictable, negative circumstances that any organization will bravely face at some point or another. It’s why it’s been said that you should always “hope for the best, and plan for the worst.” When a company or organization is facing any sort of crisis, whether that’s something as serious as a company data breach, a natural disaster, or even a power outage or water break in your building, it’s important to have an established plan or course of action for your customer service team or company call center to execute.
When crisis strikes, it’s critical that everyone is on the page, working together, and ready to take action to alleviate the problem and get back to business as soon as possible.
Here are some tips and tricks that can help your call center and customer service agents ensure that they bounce back quickly and efficiently after a crisis.
Create a Crisis Contingency Plan
Preparation is the key to success for any customer service arm, or call center. This is especially true for crises both large and small. Whether you’re a telecommunications company facing a data breach, or a large retailer facing down the barrel of a major snow storm or hurricane, having a plan for a variety of different, plausible scenarios is an important precautionary measure to not only protect the company, but also your call center agents, and ensure that your customers are taken care of, and to minimize as much physical and financial damage as possible.
For example, a logistics or courier company should have a backup vendor to fulfill their delivery contracts if they’re unable to meet their contractual obligations, say due to a severe storm, accident, or another crisis. Once the back-up courier is engaged, it’s important to employ a clear communication plan to let customers know the status of their package. An automated email or an emergency call-back number can be put into effect for customers to be able to reach the company, and speak with remote or off-site customer service or call center agents to address their needs.
Have a Crisis Contingency Team
A crisis contingency plan is only as effective as the team that implements it. It’s critical to put key personnel in place to swiftly act and execute the plan as soon as crisis strikes. You should have a team with a variety of technical, organizational, and communication skills.
If your company undergoes a power outage during a heavy snowstorm, ensure that you have a back-up call center perhaps in another branch location, or even another city, and re-direct your call center volume to that back-up team. All call center agents should be trained to take on the extra call volume, be fully briefed on the crisis, and understand the steps that need to be taken based on your company-wide contingency plan.
Also: The team that is experiencing the crisis needs to have a clear mode or channel of communication to understand what’s happening, what is expected of them, and what actions they can take to protect themselves, their fellow teammates, and who to report to in order to be accounted for.
Testing Your Crisis Plan
Regardless of how great your company’s crisis contingency plan is, and how prepared your call center agents think they are, it’s import to conduct regular emergency drills to test your crisis plan. This will help to minimize downtime for your calls, keep your customers happy, and ensure that everyone involved remains safe, in the event that the crisis is something as serious and potentially dangerous as a natural disaster, for example.
Whether you’re in a heavy snowstorm zone, or if there is major construction happening near your building that could lead to a power outage, or if you have valuable, sensitive customer data that could be at risk for a data breach, practice drills based on the most likely crisis scenarios. From these tests, you’ll be able to determine what works and what needs to be improved.