Business Continuity

Think of Business Continuity like insurance for your call centre.

What happens when the power cuts out, or if suddenly your call centre staff can’t access the building?

It could be from something as mundane as a power outage or a total disaster scenario.

Or, as we are now discovering, a virus such as COVID19 that is causing global havoc with countries closing borders, workplaces being closed and so on.

For Australian companies with offshore call centres, this is becoming a critical issue as most offshore call centres don’t have any capability for their agents to work from home.

But it’s not just overseas companies, the Australian Government is encouraging people who can work from home to do so as well.

Does your call centre have the capability for agents to work from home?

According to the latest industry survey in Australia completed in 2019, only 29% of Australian call centres offered work from home options and even then, the majority only offered it to a select few.

Business continuity is planning for all scenarios to ensure your call centre can continue in the event of an unexpected issue.

For some call centres like emergency services, having a robust BCP can literally be a matter of life and death.

For other call centres where perhaps outbound telemarketing is conducted, the worst thing that could happen is that no calls can be made until the problem is resolved.

BCP Call Centre Solutions

There are a number of options when looking for BCP solutions for your call centre with some being a lot easier to implement than others.

These are the four most common Business Continuity options available:

1. Remote Agent/ Home Solutions

The Technology

Call centre cloud solutions have changed the game in lots of areas and BCP is another one to add to the list as its the core enabler to having home-based/remote call centre agents.

By having a hosted PBX or ACD, all at home agents need to access the call centre queue and functions is an internet connection and an IP headset.

Agents can simply log in to the queue and have the same functionality as being at their workstation including being able to put customers on hold, transfer calls etc and the call centre manager still has all the tools including call and screen recording, call stats etc.

Find a list of technology suppliers who specialise in at-home/remote call centre solutions >

Using someone elses at-home agents

Many outsourcers and BPO’s are already geared up with at-home agents enabling you to instantly tap into that resource pool which is perfect in a current climate like now.

Find a list of outsourcers who already use at-home agents or can offer it as a solution >

2. Have a backup site

At the most expensive end of the scale, you could have a complete mirror image of your call centre set up in another location that is far enough away to be on a separate power grid, or far enough away geographically to not be influenced by natural events (e.g. earthquake, fire, snow etc).

The challenge with that model is not just the cost, but you still need to get the staff there!

Assuming a disaster scenario, that may be difficult.

Of course, it’s not always a disaster you need to be concerned about.

Your building may be inaccessible or non-operational for numerous reasons like a power outage, nearby car accident, gas leak etc.

So having some capacity nearby, will enable you to divert your staff to another location and continue to take calls.

The backup site doesn’t need to be the same size as your existing centre either.

You may just want a small number of seats to handle emergency calls only or to take messages until things are back to normal.

Tip! Find a buddy site.

There might be a call centre in your area that is happy to have a reciprocal BCP plan with you where you both set aside a certain number of seats.

3. Re-route your calls

There are lots of businesses that run their call centres across multiple sites for the primary purpose of Business Continuity.

In the event one site becomes unavailable, calls are simply diverted to the other centre.

This may reduce overall capacity but calls are still being answered.

In Victoria, for example, the Triple Zero emergency call centre is split across three geographically situated centres to ensure that calls can always be answered.

Ideally you’ll have some call centre technology which can enable you to do this quickly (and remotely in the event you can’t access your primary site.

Find a list of providers who specialise in call centre technology >

4. Use an outsourcer as a back up site

Many contact centre outsourcers now offer a permanent BCP solution where you can lease call centre seats that are ready to go should you ever need them when your centre is unavailable.

While each outsourcer has different solutions and pricing, they can be roughly split into:

Hot – Just like having another workstation at your call centre. Everything ready and configured to go – the call centre agents arrive, log in and start taking calls.

Warm – The outsourcer has a group of seats available for BCP but those seats can be shared between other businesses. In the event you need them, there can be a configuration time required before you can use them. This could be anywhere from 5 minutes to several hours.

Cold – Just the seats only. The cheapest solution but requires the longest time to get them up and running.

You’ll find a list of all the different contact centre outsourcers by country in the free ACXPA Supplier Directory or read our free Call Centre Outsourcing guide >

Working out your Business Continuity Plan

Determining the right level of BCP (Business Continuity Plan) for your business is not a decision to be taken lightly.

It can be very expensive to maintain a fully equipped call centre in another location or have expensive backup generators to power phones, computers and airflow for your call centre agents.

Having two call centres can help, but that also introduces other challenges.

And doing nothing is, depending on the nature of your business, is high risk.

Ultimately Business Continuity is like insurance – you don’t truly appreciate the value until you need it which for many businesses, is right now!

Find a list of consultants, technology suppliers and contact centre outsourcers who can help with your Business Continuity Plan in the free ACXPA Supplier Directory >>>

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