One thing that Coronavirus threw up for the majority of business owners across the world was the need for a disaster recovery plan (let’s just call it a DRP, shall we?).
If you already had a DRP in place before the virus hit, you knew your data would be backed up safely or that a failed piece of hardware wouldn’t throw too much of a spanner in the works.
But how prepared were you for everyone missing from the office? You know, the place where the phones ring?
In many workplaces, if there are no voices to pick up the phone every time it rings, the business could find itself under threat. Likewise, if staff can’t communicate easily and regularly, as they would on site? There are going to be problems.
For those that weren’t prepared for mass absenteeism or working from home (and that’s not a small number of businesses!), the pandemic threw a real spanner in the works.
Very quickly it became clear how greatly the business world relies on effective communication for its cogs to keep turning.
So the question is: If you can’t answer the phone, or hold face-to-face meetings, how can your business keep moving forward?
In this week’s blog, we’re going to run through the six steps every decision maker needs to take right now to create an effective disaster recovery plan.
Whichever way you’ve managed to muddle your way through so far, chances are you can still improve your communication methods by spending some time on your DRP.
Step 1: Analyse where your company is at now
Set aside some time to work out exactly where your business is right now and look at how communication happens internally and externally.
It’s not just important that you’re able to maintain communication with your customers, but that your staff can communicate and collaborate too.
How are you going to replace informal lines of communication like the odd conversation over a desk?
Which platforms could you use to replicate team meetings regularly and successfully?
What can you do to make sure external presentations, pitches and proposals to prospects and customers continue?
Without proper technology to support your teams, you’ll inadvertently put them under even more pressure to perform out of their natural working habitat.
Video conferencing is a great way to maintain regular face-to-face engagement internally and externally, but only if you can provide the quality connectivity to make it happen via cloud-based apps.
Do you already have virtual private network access in place for your staff?
Step 2: Get fancy with phones
As part of your analysis, you’ll want to note the phone numbers owned by your company and make sure you know exactly where each one of those rings through.
Look at inbound call routing. How are you going to make the same processes happen if there’s no receptionist in place to redirect your calls? Where do you need to make changes to your Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system so it still works when staff aren’t at their desks?
Outbound calls are just as important. Consider what your staff would normally do to make an outbound call from their desk in the office, and think about where differences will crop up should they need to work from home.
Hint: Cloud-based call plan solutions allow you to remain in control whether you’re in or out of the office. And many of them offer CRM integration – perfect for accessing customers’ or suppliers’ details even when working remotely.
Step 3: Provide training where it’s needed
It’s likely that there are some staff in your business who answer the phone more than others.
And they’re the ones who you ought to train in how your voice services will change during a disaster. So make sure they receive the guidance they need to facilitate those changes!
Talk staff through how things would change in the event of a disaster, and give them a help pack including the contact details for your key telecoms and connectivity suppliers.
Step 4: Identify threats
Once you’ve done a thorough analysis of how your calls are handled throughout every department of your business, it’s time to sniff out the weak spots.
Fail to do so and you’ll miss an opportunity to set up solutions and minimise disruptions during a disaster.
By noting down your weak points, you’ll identify which areas of your voice DRP need more attention and can begin to work towards a solution that covers every eventuality.
Step 5: Redefine your DRP
Once you know what improvements and functions you need to build into your DRP, you can set about making it happen.
And if you haven’t got one at all yet, now’s the moment to start putting it together from scratch!
Here are several things every decent DRP must include:
- A good UC platform (that’s Unified Communications) – so that your teams can continue to communicate and collaborate effectively
- Business grade mobile service – you never know when you might need it to become a source of connectivity (e.g. when homeworkers’ broadband fails!)
- Failover processes – who will take over call answering if the usual staff member can’t do it
- Self-serve call management services – so you can set up and control how calls are routed to your business
- Hosted Private Branch Exchange (PBX) equipment so calls management can be maintained remotely
Step 6: take action – now!
You can read about this stuff as much as you like, but if you don’t do something about it now, you’re going to find yourself in a pickle next time a disaster crops up.
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s that every business needs to have a great Disaster Recovery Plan in place to avoid letting customers down, creating more stress for staff and losing money.
Click here to read our full guide to creating a DRP, or give us a call on 01252 916888 to set up the systems that will allow you to keep your calls flowing, no matter the disaster! After all, we’re here to help YOU communicate better … no mater what!