In every journalist's career one comes across a piece of research that makes one's head shake followed by a jaw drop and scream either silently or out loud if no one is around: "Are these people [fill in the blank] ???!!!"
The paper "Business as Usual? A Benchmarking Study of Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity for Contact Centers ", published by DMG Consulting and sponsored by Empirix shockingly shows, if the survey sample is any indication, just how badly prepared contact centers to handle something as relatively minor as an ACD failure, let alone managing catastrophes like fires up to major events like hurricanes and yes terrorism.
The study, appropriately enough, arrived on my desk days before the seventh anniversary of 9-11 and in the middle of what is turning out to be the deadliest and most destructive hurricane season in three years, with Ike now at this writing threatening to destroy the Texas coast...
Here are the highlights, if you can call it that:
* Less than 37 percent of companies are confident that their operations can withstand a disaster or business disruption
* 60.2 percent of firms are not routinely testing their core contact center infrastructure. This leaves them open to unexpected but avoidable failures
* Only 4.7 percent of firms test their disaster recovery/business continuity plans monthly, leaving 95.3 percent at risk of a serious meltdown in an emergency situation
* 20 percent of contact centers do not even have a disaster recovery plan
I've had a lifetime dealing with, preventing, preparing for, avoiding, responding, evacuating in advance of, and writing about disasters...including accidents, earthquakes, fires, storms (including tornadoes), and terrorism. I've been a security guard in factories, at construction sites, and offices. I've written about 'events' from building fires to the first World Trade Center bombing, along with stories and books on electrical safety.
And as yesterday's blog noted I witnessed and underwent the aftermath of 9-11...following my-then employer's disaster plan...carrying a brightly colored emergency pack with hardhat that it had supplied each of us but fortunately I did not have to use.
At the same time I've heard, and told the stories of how the staff at my last employer, a small-midsized teleservices firm survived--by way of solid planning and preparation-- through the hurricanes that ripped apart the Southeast in 2004 and 2005, maintaining contact with clients and their customers, and their employees through some horrific conditions. I was proud to have told that firm's story on its website, in news and features, and in sales materials because it showed a genuine commitment to ensuring safety and continuity.
There is, therefore from my experience and observation, no excuse other than sheer carelessness leading to negligence not to have a solid, tested, business continuity/disaster response plan. Firms that lack them are putting their employees' lives at risk along with their businesses. They are a needless part of the problem that professionals like my son, who is a paramedic and who is out there every day saving lives do not need when responding to emergencies.
I hope the DMG Consulting/Empirix paper shakes people up. If one more contact center decides to sit down and write or revamp their plans as a result of it then some good will have come. And at the end of the day that's all what matters.