Crisis Management Plans Start with Call Center Outsourcing

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No matter what type of company you run, a crisis can always happen. A crisis, especially an unexpected one, has the power to devastate a business. Every company can suffer from a crisis situation if they are unprepared, so it is important for a company to be prepared to handle any potential threat. Crisis management is a crucial part of any business. Any company, large or small, should have a strategy to handle any potential crises. What is a business crisis? A crisis within your company could be anything from product recalls to technological issues to natural disasters. These crises are unpredictable, which can make them even more damaging to your company’s success. No matter what type of business and what type of crises you may encounter, you need to be prepared.

Crisis management is a large part of the call center industry. Call centers are often an integral part of any crisis management plan and businesses that outsource to them need the center to be 100% operational 100% of the time. From the perspective of the call centers role in crisis management, following is a step by step plan to follow to facilitate preparedness.

Step one is assessing what type of crisis situations may happen. For instance, if you are a meat producer, your main concern may be notification of a meat recall. If you are a utility provider, your concern may be customer service management in case of a disaster or power loss. Make sure you list each possible crisis.

Step two is setting up protocols to deal with the crisis. In the case of the meat packing plant, make sure you are utilizing a call center to manage your emergency recall hotline as they will be better prepared for customer service and call management and handling unforeseen spokes in volume. Make sure you communicate with the answering service and script out exactly how they will handle the inbound calls. You need to communicate exactly how they should answer the phone, what they should say, and who to contact. From the customers perspective, the worst part about any crisis is people not knowing what's going on. The contact center as a third party communication provider exists to keep your customers in the loop.

Step three is to create your own command center by delegating authority within your own business. If your calls are going to an answering service, make sure the point of contact is the team leader in your company or any other member of your crisis management team. Make sure that team has blueprints for exactly how to handle calls and what to say. If you are having the operators transfer "emergency" calls directly to you, don't fumble on the line. You need to know exactly what to say and be prepared.

Step four is to create blueprints for problem resolution. It's great to have the answering service be there to improve customer communication in case of a crisis, but you need to have in place resolution plans. Take the BP oil disaster that happened a few years ago. Even though they were unprepared for the crisis in terms of the sheer magnitude, they had contingency plans to shut down the well and minimize ecological ruin.

A crisis can happen at any time. As a business owner, the least you can do is be prepared. Hiring an answering service to route calls and provide customer service is great but you also need to create real resolutions to hypothetical problems. Following the outline above should help any company better deal with a crisis situation.

For more information about the role of the call center in any crisis management or outsourcing plan, please visit the Customer Service Report. Other great posts include a look at the overseas call center industry.

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