What would happen if your telephone system failed and you did not have a plan in place to deal with it? Would your business still be able to operate? Would you be able to contact your customers or suppliers? What alternatives could you arrange and how long would it take?
Incidents in recent years have illustrated all too clearly the affect that natural disasters can have on a business. For example, localised flooding has affected thousands of businesses, some of which never recover.
Without timely communication – when, where, and how your customer wants to communicate – there is no customer relationship. Despite all the innovations in self-service over the past decade, the most important connection is often the voice a company can put on the other end of a telephone.
Yet many companies underestimate how fragile that link to the customer is, how many different ways that connection to the customer can be jeopardised – and how broad their options are for ensuring that they never lose touch with a customer.
We help companies with the level of preparedness they need to achieve consistent customer communications through the role of remote technology to ensure continuity and an effective long-term strategy.
A communications continuity strategy is essential for maintaining customer relationships, but upgrading communications systems that increase flexibility have some side benefits as well:
- IP telephony system upgrades, which are a key solution to the continuity issue, have produced overall communications systems savings of between 25 and 60 per cent.
- Companies that have changed their communications systems to be more prepared for business disruptions have seen an average savings of up to 85 per cent a year when IP telephony is involved.
- New systems enable access to voice messages and faxes even if – in the event of a power failure or severe weather, for example – phone systems are down and the office is closed.
To understand continuity, you need to think through your customer’s eyes. They are not tethered to a specific phone or location when they call you. They can reach out from a home or office desk, a cell phone, WiFi hotspot, or a IP Telephony link.
They have little sympathy for an accidentally severed fibre-optic cable, or a road accident causing a power disruption. All you know is that you are out of touch during crucial moments – moments when a customer wants to initiate a contact.
The effects of those service interruptions can ripple through your organisation with greater long-term effects than a major catastrophe.
When customers can research and switch suppliers and partners in a matter of minutes, during even a modest interruption, your company simply vanishes from the customer’s radar.
The cornerstone of any customer communication strategy is accessibility. Know how your customers will access your company during a disruption of services or locations. On the other hand companies are not structured properly to provide to give employees accessibility to their jobs.
If you are having a conversation with a customer and you are told to evacuate the building for a fire or a drill, the technology exists today to switch that call to your wireless handset, allowing you to walk right out of the building and keep talking, and it will be seamless to the customer.
Relationship continuity is subject to pressures great and small, old and new. Much of the high-profile effort put into relationship continuity planning revolves around high-profile threats – threats of terrorist attacks, pandemics, and devastating, wide-ranging natural disasters of flood, earthquake, and fire.
Although substantial, by their very nature these are not the threats most companies face most of the time. Companies must seek modern strategies to deal with a varied range of continuity threats.
Outdated continuity plans fail to account for modern threats and vulnerabilities. They fail to take an updated view of the importance of ongoing customer relationships.