Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

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1 WHITEPAPER Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery How the Virtual, Crowdsourcing Model Ensures Seamless Service Operations During Planned and Unplanned Events With virtual service organizations, there is no downtime. The ability to provide continuous service during natural disasters, as well as planned events is a quantifiable advantage. With the flexibility of a virtual environment, companies can have peace-of-mind knowing their business and customers will be insulated from potential service-impacting events. 1

2 Introduction In today s extremely competitive business environment, where customer expectations are higher than ever before, service interruptions are simply unacceptable. Regardless of the reason, busy signals or long on-hold times can damage brands, diminish loyalty and cause customers to turn to competitors. A State of Emergency Ensuring business continuity is vital to business success, like never before. Virtually every aspect of a company s operation is interconnected and vulnerable to disruption. While all parts of a business are affected, as a result of natural or man-made disasters, the customer contact organization is the most vulnerable. According to a recent Frost and Sullivan Market Insight report, customer contact organizations are at the heart of business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) strategies, as they are the go-to information centers in times of calamities and disasters. When disasters strike or systems fail, customers want help and they want help now. They expect immediate service and are not willing to compromise. When dealing with a service organization, during times of crisis, customers demand even greater levels of service, attention and problem resolution than usual. Being down for days, or hours is not an option when every minute of downtime could prove fatal for a company. Yet, according to Frost and Sullivan, fewer than one-third of companies are prepared for a business interruption. While many companies have complex disaster recovery and business continuity plans in place, most of these plans are built with a concentration on data processing and IT recovery. Many of these same organizations have not given the same level of consideration to the continuity of their contact center the very place that will have to handle customer calls during and after a disaster. When Disaster Strikes Natural disasters are happening everywhere and more often than ever before. We don t have to look too far to see evidence of this today. Whether it is West Coast wildfires, Midwestern tornados, coastal hurricanes or severe storms and flash floods around the globe, the result of even a small event can have a big impact on your business, your employees and your customers. 2 Copyright Arise Virtual Solutions Inc. All Rights Reserved. 2

3 Even with unpredictable weather raging on, disrupting the economy, the environment and businesses, most disaster recovery plans only identify critical business response for recovery after a catastrophic disaster. Most plans do not tackle the preservation of service delivery or address the greater likelihood of partial failures and service disruption during catastrophic and equally debilitating unplanned events. The harsh reality is that regardless of where a brick-and-mortar contact center is located, at some point it will be at the mercy of Mother Nature. That same center will then have to support customers who are not affected and not interested in excuses. No matter the reason, whether it is operating in the aftermath of a tornado or providing customer care during a blizzard, busy signals and long on-hold times can damage brands, diminish loyalty and cause customers to turn to competitors. Not Business as Usual While in the past, customers might have accepted a call-back the next day or a closed recording, during a disaster or unplanned event, this is no longer the case in our instant access world. When companies try to rebuild after a major disaster or recover from an unplanned event, they need to keep their customer base strong. They need to reassure their customers by handling their calls and function, as if it is business as usual. Consumers demand % uptime; but, when disasters and unplanned events happen there are unique business challenges when operating a physical brick-and-mortar contact center; such as ramp time to gather and train agents, increased costs to due overtime and strains on operating technology. Most companies operate using redundant processes and business systems that allow them to operate smoothly and economically, with an acceptable level of customer service when times are good. However, when issues arise, business services, systems and structures are really put to the test. Many organizations believe they will operate without interruption by having multiple, redundant contact centers in different cluster locations or geographic regions around the globe. centers are not flexible enough to respond quickly, adapt to call fluctuations and have hundreds, if not thousands, of skilled, ready and available people at a moment s notice. This is forcing companies to seek out virtual contact center outsourcers, who have reshaped and focused their services to provide flexible, on demand, realtime support. 3 Copyright Arise Virtual Solutions Inc. All Rights Reserved. 3

4 The Current State of Change Customer contact centers are often the heart of a company, intertwined with every other part of an organization. To think that there is one, single, fail-safe solution for all planned and unplanned events is just not reasonable. However, when organizations take into account a full range of business perspectives including: security, scalability, flexibility, geographic needs, regulatory compliance, cost, customer service, availability and reliability, the answer becomes clear that virtual contact centers are more than a trend or a fad. Virtual contact center services can help an organization maintain continuous business operations during disasters and unplanned events, while seamlessly handling their ever-changing daily business requirements. With true geographic diversity and an advanced technology infrastructure, home-based, cloud, customer contact solutions can provide peace-of-mind in times of crisis. A virtual, cloud-based approach ensures service resiliency so that business is not interrupted. Benefits of working in the cloud: Provides access to a widely distributed network of work-at-home professionals. Ensures quicker recovery from unanticipated customer contact volume fluctuations. Creates a frictionless customer interaction in times of urgent service, making it as easy as possible for the customer to get what they need, when they need it. Enables companies to streamline their operations and achieve significant savings as a result. When selecting a virtual contact center service provider, look for an outsourcing provider that is flexible and able to work with changing business priorities within seconds, not hours. They should be able to leverage advanced tools and sophisticated technology systems to ensure uninterrupted service. A committed outsourcing partner will help their clients design contingency plans, rather than just react to them ensuring better understanding of customer contact fluctuations. The bottom line is to be prepared. Select an outsourcing provider, who not only provides virtual, work-at-home services, but also truly understands the intricacies and expertise needed to help reduce overall risks. One who provides instantly flexible, security-rich business continuity, designed to address your specific vulnerabilities and requirements. 4 Copyright Arise Virtual Solutions Inc. All Rights Reserved. 4

5 Service Without Interruption Arise s virtual contact center operates in the cloud and uses an innovative crowdsourcing model that can easily accommodate call volume fluctuations. Fortune 500 and other industry-leading organizations have partnered with Arise to fortify their operations during unforeseen events because its model has unique business-continuity capabilities, unavailable in other types of call center environments. employees can be reluctant to work extra hours and frequently require over-time pay when they do. Arise provides its virtual services through crowdsourcing, using a network of independent businesses (IBs) rather than employees. This is a significant differentiator for Arise and an essential element in providing seamless customer care during times of crisis. IBs are constantly looking for opportunities to maximize revenue potential. Therefore, when a client unexpectedly needs help handling their call volumes, IBs are usually eager to step up and accept the additional workload. This is a major advantage over the employee-based call center model, where employees can be reluctant to work extra hours and frequently require over-time pay when they do. State-of-the-Art Technology In this virtual environment, independent, customer service, sales and technical support providers perform call handling services from geographically dispersed home offices. With no commutes, it is faster and easier for them to take calls at a moment s notice. In addition, these virtual resources service Arise clients in 30- minute increments according to forecasts, which they can easily access and select through Arise s award-winning, online and mo bile workforce management system, Starmatic. Should a client need an immediate increase in call coverage, this vast resource of skilled providers can be quickly ramped up or down, as necessary. Arise s advanced technology system allows it to provide operation al efficiencies, not available in traditional brick-and-mortar environments. For example, to quickly engage an independent business for an immediate need, urgent service requests are sent through real-time communication channels, such as instant messaging and text. 5 Copyright Arise Virtual Solutions Inc. All Rights Reserved. 5

6 Additionally, the Starmatic proprietary, award-winning, scheduling system, developed from years of first-hand experience, allows for on-the-fly adjustments to coverage levels, thereby ensuring high quality service at all times. Mirroring Call Curves The ability to mirror changes in call volumes, with levels of re sources is one of the strongest benefits Arise provides to its clients. Not only are service metrics held constant during unexpected events, but costs are kept to a minimum, due to the unique combination of incremental service intervals and nonemployee professionals. Payment only is made for actual time taking calls. This avoids paying for underutilized resources like those typically found in brick-and-mortar centers. The majority of independent service providers on Arise programs, invest just part of each week taking calls, which creates a large network of resources that can be called upon when flexing is needed. Consider this example: All 100 resources on a program average 10 hours a week. A heat wave hits and a client needs to cover unplanned calls. If every resource added just one more hour a day for 5 days, the client would benefit from a 50% increase in coverage from knowledgeable professionals. Moments of Truth: Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Case Studies According to New York Times and Wall Street Journal s Bestselling Author, Shep Hyken, there are moments of truth and moments of misery created each time a customer comes in contact with an organization. These moments of truth are the moments that ultimately determine whether a service strategy will succeed or fail, and the moments of misery ultimately determine if a customer will stay or leave. All too often, customers experience moments of misery when a contact center is dealing with a disaster or unplanned event. However, it does not have to be this way. There are smart organizations that have found a better way to turn these moments into opportunities, showing their customers how good their organization are. 6 Copyright Arise Virtual Solutions Inc. All Rights Reserved. 6

7 By partnering with the right virtual service provider, they are building long-term customer loyalty and providing total customer satisfaction even, in the face of a disaster. Help When It s Needed Most: A top roadside assistance provider was experience heavy call volumes due to extreme weather conditions, stranding motorists in times of need. The company partnered with Arise to implement a business continuity plan (BCP), where once the plan was activated, Arise had the ability to quickly get up to 150 agents servicing within a very short time frame. Implementation of this program began in August 2014 and was successfully launched in January of 2015 with 630 certified agents. As a result, the client activated the business continuity plan a total of 23 times in In addition, 23,064 calls have been serviced utilizing the business continuity solutions, and Arise had a 86.8% fill rate on BCP ask. Help After Hurricane Sandy: Early on October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeastern coastline of the United States. Among the devastation left in its path was a major cruise line, forced to reroute nine of its ships and 20,000 passengers. The cruise line was unable to internally handle thousands of calls resulting from last minute cancellations, port of call changes, and shortened itineraries. Leveraging its existing relationship with Arise, the cruise line was able to secure immediate assistance with a single phone call to Arise. Instantly, Arise issued an urgent service request and added the equivalent of 120 full time resources to handle the unexpected call volume. This was a 60% increase in capacity over the forecast for that same period. Additionally, Arise and its network of independent businesses worked closely with cruise line management to distribute updated policy information to affected customers. Assistance When Disaster Strikes: When the cruise ship, Costa Concordia, partially sank after hitting a reef off the coast of Italy, Arise was one of the first companies the major cruise line called for assistance, to help handle calls from concerned customers. Detailed communications were de livered to the Arise network and an urgent service request was sent out via text, phone and asking for additional assistance. Over the period of increased coverage, customer satisfaction remained steady and the cruise line s service metrics were consistent. 7 Copyright Arise Virtual Solutions Inc. All Rights Reserved. 7

8 One Company. Countless Options With virtual service organizations, like Arise, there is no downtime. The ability to provide continuous service during natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy or winter blizzards, as well as planned events like product launches or seasonal business cycles, is a quantifiable advantage of the virtual crowdsourcing model. With the flexibility of a virtual environment, a large network of independent businesses, skilled service providers and an advanced technology infrastructure, Arise Virtual Solutions provides clients peace-of-mind, knowing their customers will be insulated from potential service-impacting events. Better Results With Arise Arise Virtual Solutions is changing the way companies think about call center services. Arise provides a virtual platform to connect primarily work-at-home service professionals running small call center businesses to Fortune 500 and other large companies. For over a decade, Arise s platform has enabled superior and extremely flexible customer contact, business processing and consulting solutions for numerous companies around the globe, uniquely blending crowdsource innovation, virtual technology and operational efficiencies to deliver an enhanced customer experience for a company s customers. Today, Arise leads the market in multi-channel customer support and on-demand contact center services. Arise accesses a diverse network of independently owned, small businesses to provide flexible, efficient, high-quality contact center services in the cloud, including customer care, sales, technical support, ecommerce and social media support. No matter how customers choose to connect - phone, , live chat or text the Arise network of providers is there to help. 8 Arise Virtual Solutions Inc Lakeside Drive Miramar, Florida US: Toll-free: International: +44 (0) Copyright Arise Virtual Solutions Inc. All Rights Reserved. 8

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