9/11 Top 3 Tips to be Telecoms Continuity Prepared

As we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11 it’s a sobering reminder to businesses to have their telecoms continuity plans up to date and tested.

Now is the best time to  re-enforce the necessity of having your business telecoms continuity plans in order. So here are my top 3 tips for being prepared:

1. Ensure you have an easy-to-use emergency mass notification solution to communicate with employees when under pressure

One of the first rules in managing a disaster situation has to be communicate, communicate, communicate. Your employees need to be confident that they are doing the right thing during an emergency and that you as a business have their safety interests at heart. In a matter of minutes you can direct your employees to stay put or evacuate, tell them the severity of a situation or whether they simply need to find another place to work. The key features you need to look out for include:

Ease of use – it’s your responsibility to send out an alert to your company. Chaos and confusion is happening around you and yet you have a job to do. The simpler the system, the better for you. Just a few clicks and you can reach all the right people with the right message via the most appropriate media: SMS text, email, voicemail, web status page, even Facebook or Twitter.

Accessibility – if your mass notification system can only be accessed on a company’s internal network or static computer, you could be screwed! Secure web access is the only reliable way to know that you can access your contacts and system from anywhere with an internet connection.

Flexibility – you are investing a substantial amount of money into purchasing a mass notification solution, and situations like 9/11 do not happen every day, therefore invest in a flexible solution which can be used for loyalty marketing purposes or distributing company information when not needed for crisis communication.

Visibility of costs – ok so you have invested in a solution, now each time you send an alert you incur costs – but do you know how much? Choose a solution which enables you to know exactly what you are spending and where.

2. Ensure that all your incoming phone calls can still be answered

Think of this scenario: If your offices were a few blocks away from the World Trade Center in the days following the disaster, your employees were all safe but your building was unusable due to extensive dust, how do you ensure your business continues ticking over and doesn’t become an indirect casualty of the situation? The answer is enabling your employees wherever possible to continue working to some degree and that means having incoming phone calls re-directed to other landline or cell phones in safe locations such as home or remote office.

Many blue chip organisations may choose to send their employees to a workplace recovery site which is specifically designed for such situations with desks, pc’s and phones waiting to be used. But how many calls are directed at individual direct in dial numbers? Hundreds? Thousands? Some recovery sites will simply transfer all calls to one number that can be then distributed to the appropriate person. The time delay this incurs can be costly as callers wait for the right person to be tracked down. Wouldn’t it be better if callers rang the regular DID number of the person they need to speak with and then get through to them instantly as if they were still in their main office? Check out your telecoms continuity plan and see how seamless it really is in such a situation…

3. Voice record re-routed phone calls

The benefit of continuing to voice record phone calls  during and after an office evacuation or major disruption, is that you can assess the behaviour and actions of employees during the crisis. It can help in providing evidence of who said what to whom and it can help in planning for future unexpected events, enabling you to brief or train individuals and departments as needed. Of course under less critical circumstances voice recording phone calls is the best way of ‘covering your corporate back’ and what’s more consumers are accepting the fact that most calls are recorded all the time now.

Business Flexibility is the key to surviving a major crisis like 9/11. Enabling employees to carry on working during and after the disruption should help ensure that your business doesn’t become a permanent casualty of the situation.

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