5 Risks to Chart In A Call Center Business Continuity Plan

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A business continuity plan is a critical document that details how a call center will operate and recover during and after an unexpected event or high-risk situation. 

It’s possible to create a plan covering all kinds of possible disruptions, though some are more necessary than others. At a minimum, your call center’s business continuity plan should directly address the following five:

  1. Natural disasters
  2. IT system failures
  3. Global health crises
  4. Data breaches
  5. Major employee turnovers

Having response strategies for these specific threats will help your call center stay afloat and operational even when faced with substantial challenges. As you explore how to safeguard against each of these fundamental risks, you’ll understand why every plan must cover them.

5 Risks to Cover in Your Call Center Business Continuity Plan

Plenty of situations can cause your call center operations to come to a screeching halt. Even small things—like temporary power outages, employee sick days, and seasonal spikes in call volumes—can affect daily performance. 

But what happens when your operations get put up against a much larger threat? Throughout this section, we’ll cover five potential scenarios in detail, and how you can navigate them.

1. Natural Disasters

Natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and wildfires can wreak havoc on call center operations. Hundreds of these catastrophic events occur every year, causing substantial damage to physical infrastructure, technology systems, and power grids. Even if your call center facility is not directly hit, nearby incidents can create regional issues leading to utility failures, infrastructure damage, and staff absence.

Since natural disasters can halt operations regardless of their location, it’s essential that you and your teams take the time to assess your regional risks and prepare for them accordingly. 

For example, coastal facilities should prepare for floods and storms, while midwestern centers should plan to safeguard against tornadoes. Ultimately, these threats will vary, but no call center is immune to natural disasters—which have the potential to obstruct workflows.

2. IT system failure

Whether small blips in power and connectivity or full outages stemming from storms, disasters, and cyber-attacks, even the most robust systems experience occasional downtime. The inability to operate through these disruptions can have negative financial, operational, and even reputational impacts on your call center.

Specifically, technology-dependent call centers must prepare for both short and long-term IT system failures. Losing connectivity to critical infrastructure like the internet, SaaS platforms, CRMs, contact center software, and telephony can completely disrupt operations. 

Without contingency plans in place to bring systems back online or to serve customers offline, such outages will directly limit the ability to conduct business, meet SLAs, and preserve revenue streams.

That’s why call centers must build redundancy into their infrastructure, data, and applications. 

How exactly? Our advice is to sit down with your call center management and do the following:

  • Establish contingency workflows that leverage offline systems.
  • Cross-train staff on manual processes that don’t rely on technology.
  • Conduct regular tests on failure scenarios to test your center’s preparedness.

3. Global Health Crises

Anything that greatly affects worldwide supply chains can place a strain on call centers. At the same time, if consumer activity makes any major offline-to-online shifts, the resulting spikes in call volumes can overwhelm any call center that lacks a continuity plan. 

To ensure your call center operations don’t fall apart from a global health crisis, you need to be familiar with modern staffing models, technologies, and processes for dealing with sudden lockdowns due to unexpected outbreaks.

If you want to future-proof your call center in this way, make sure you have methods to enable a fully remote staff, leverage cloud technologies, and design scalable operations for volatile call volumes. By expecting the unexpected, your call center will be able to outpace any competitors who are underprepared or caught off-guard.

4. Data Breach

With their constant access to sensitive customer data, call centers face substantial threats from cybercriminals seeking to infiltrate their systems and steal private information. 

These attack vectors include anything from telephony denial of service (TDoS) and phishing to malware and insider theft. Neglecting their inherent risks exposes call centers to steep consequences like lawsuits, fines, customer churn, and reputational damage if a breach occurs.

Still, despite the massive consequences of cybersecurity threats, breaches continue to happen. To protect your call center as best you can, strengthen its data security with steps like multifactor authentication, staff security training, and data encryption. 

Keep in mind that there are no guarantees in this space, but taking certain measures will drastically reduce your chances of getting hacked or compromised. With that in mind, your call center should also have incident response protocols ready for containment, notification, and recovery in case a breach ever happens.

The big takeaway here is that cyber threats are growing, not shrinking, so be sure to prioritize your call center’s cybersecurity before you learn this lesson the hard way.

5. Employee Turnover 

Call centers constantly battle employee churn rates, driven by high-stress roles and demanding performance requirements. As a result, losing support agents can be incredibly taxing on daily operations. 

In fact, not only can this kind of attrition completely upend your workflows, but it can also inflict reputational damage on your company—both as an employer and as a service provider.

If you want to account for these turnover risks, you should always have contingent staffing models and rapid onboarding protocols ready for implementation. You may even consider cross-training your employees to ensure they can handle multiple overlapping roles and responsibilities just in case.

While some turnover remains inevitable, preparing in advance can avoid much of the sting. This means that you need to be able to implement plans that can quickly deploy extra staff, onboard new hires, and scale your operations up or down.

What To Cover For Each Risk In Your Call Center Business Continuity Plan 

Though we can go on all day about the risks your call center can face, you must still build out continuity plans that are specific to your operations. Here are a few different contingency plans your teams can put in place to help deter any of the risks mentioned above:

  • Incident response playbooks: Create a detailed, step-by-step action plan to identify threats, contain them (aka “stop the bleeding”), and prevent residual damage on your call center. Appoint leadership roles and assemble response teams to carry out these actions and lead the charge.
  • Technology and facility alternatives: In the event of location, infrastructure, or IT system loss, identify backup options and temporary service workarounds to maintain operations without your primary resources and providers.
  • Communications protocol: Draft templates of pre-crafted communications you can send to notify your staff, customers, and stakeholders if and when a disaster scenario occurs. The last thing you want to be doing is writing and editing copy when you need to be dealing with the problem instead. 
  • Staff roles and responsibilities: Catalog the required actions for your teams and key individuals based on their expertise so that everyone knows what to do in a given crisis. 
  • Recovery roadmaps: Once a threat is over, you should have a systematic process in place to return to normal operations. This should include supporting your staff, delivering accumulated backlogs, remedying damages, and more. Remember, knowing how to recover from a disaster scenario is just as important as preparing for one.

Lastly, keep in mind that your business may be unique, so build contingency plans that account for any potential risks that can affect it specifically. This will give you the confidence to overcome your own worst-case scenarios and deliver quality customer support no matter what.

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