The COVID-19 crisis will lead many contact centers and companies to activate their business continuity plans. Whether or not it’s the first time, no plan survives contact with reality.
The world’s first wide-scale work-from-home experiment is now exposing many plans’ weaknesses and testing their viability. Knowledge management, or access to support data, is a core requirement for customer service. Here’s how and why it should be part of your business continuity plan (BCP).
WHAT IS A BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLAN FOR CONTACT CENTERS?
The world is full of nasty surprises. Here in Miami where I live, those typically involve hurricanes. That means power outages, flooding, infrastructure damage, and the occasional stray alligator. For you, it may be earthquakes, tornadoes, or snowstorms. Whatever the case, every business needs to be prepared for unplanned events that impact their ability to operate.
A business continuity plan ensures that critical systems remain operational, and that services can still be delivered. Based on your industry and the type of events, most likely you’ll need to consider what level of service you plan to maintain and how staffing may be affected.
WHAT SHOULD BE PART OF YOUR BCP?
In terms of call center operations, you’ll need to identify which systems are critical and how they may be impacted by various events.
For handling inbound calls and inquiries, your key systems might be:
- Physical infrastructure in your facility
- Contact center software
- Knowledge base
- Minimal required staff
- Communication tool (e.g. Skype, Slack)
COVID-19 presents an interesting challenge. No critical infrastructure is damaged and there is no weather impeding travel. Everyone has power, water, and mobile service. The roads are clear and everyone could get to work. But a sudden company-wide move to remote work due to this new pandemic is primarily a challenge of communication and technology.
Those who have already migrated to cloud-based systems such as Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) tools have a leg up on the rest.
KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IS A CRITICAL SYSTEM
Now more than ever, it is imperative that your internal processes and procedures are documented, digitized and accessible to your workers. In order to provide accurate and consistent service to your customers, all your agents will need browser-based access to your company’s support data. That means local solutions won’t cut it.
There’s no worse time than the present to have agents putting people on hold and frantically messaging or emailing others trying to find help. If your agents have to resort to shoulder taps, local drives, and 3 ring binders, it’s time to make a beeline to a cloud-based KM platform.
5 PARTS OF YOUR KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT PLAN
Here are the five elements of a knowledge base that will ensure your team continues to provide consistent and quality service while all working remotely.
1. Accessible Anywhere - Browser-based access from anywhere with an internet connection is a must-have for distributed teams.
2. Easy to Update - You need the ability to quickly communicate critical changes to all support staff and be sure everyone sees it.
3. Alerts - During any emergency, your business will need to send out alerts more often than usual and to a variety of different groups. You’ll need a tool that enables both easy alerting and targeted alerts based on certain conditions.
4. Feedback System - With or without face-to-face collaboration, users must be able to quickly and easily leave feedback, and for it to be automatically forwarded to editors. This ensures a short feedback cycle and team alignment.
5. Decision Trees - With distributed teams, training and consistency can be tricky. The easiest way to ensure a standard level of service or adherence to troubleshooting procedures is to use decision trees to map the process.
Your Contact Center will be Stronger Long-term
By having a detailed and updated business continuity plan, you can ensure that your contact center easily weathers any major disruptions and that after the current crisis, it comes out even stronger. Cloud-based tools, including a knowledge base, are an integral part of both your BCP and positioning your company for the future.