4 Ways to Enhance Contact Center Efficiency and Brand Value During Disasters

This post was co-authored by Genesys AppFoundry partner, ContactRelief.

Natural and man-made disasters are life-altering events for those directly impacted. And they present a complex set of challenges for those servicing and supporting the victims. When managed poorly, these situations create massive operational inefficiencies, unwanted compliance and regulatory exposure, and irreparable brand damage. But when these situations are managed well, they present an opportunity to significantly enhance long-term customer loyalty while maximizing the efficiency of your contact center operations.

A Growing Challenge

The number of people affected by natural or man-made disasters is expected to rise at a rapid pace over the next few years.

  • Four of the last six years have seen a record number of natural disasters — with damages that exceeded $1 billion per event.
  • The population in Gulf Coast and East Coast shoreline counties — those most exposed to extreme weather events — has increased by 43% since 1980.
  • The increase in man-made disasters, such as acts of terror, mass shootings and, in some cases, wildfires, shows no signs of abating.

These macro-trends, combined with increasing regulatory scrutiny in industries like financial services make it more critical than ever for customer-centric organizations to have robust strategies and tools to effectively navigate these challenging situations.

The Current State Is Sub-Optimal

While many organizations have a process to manage customer communications during times of crisis, it’s often fraught with manual procedures that create wasted time, errors and inconsistencies. And that ultimately leads to massive inefficiencies, sub-optimal customer interactions and increased brand risk. With the number of disaster events on the rise, better processes are needed.

Industry research, combined with the experiences of large contact center operators, indicates that there are four key steps to enhance contact center operations and brand value during times of crisis.

  1. Efficiently Maximize Situational Awareness

The most successful companies have an automated, centralized process they use to gather near real-time information on what disaster events currently exist, specific geographic locations and customers impacted, and the severity and expected duration of the impact. Too often, a company’s situational awareness function consists of a risk or operations manager trying to monitor a few news feeds, web sites or mobile alerts for developing crisis situations — all while trying to perform their routine job functions. Ultimately, this results in missed, inaccurate and untimely information — all of which leads to a sub-optimal response and customer experience.

  1. Establish Defensible and Repeatable Decision-Making Criteria

Although robust situational awareness about crisis events is critical, using this information to formulate and implement a customer communication strategy is equally important. Extremely valuable time is lost when too many hours are spent formulating response scenarios on the spot. Best practices in this area require pre-established response scenarios based on numerous factors including event type, severity, estimated population impacted and expected duration. This not only enables a faster organizational response to customers but also reduces regulatory and brand risk of disparate treatment.

  1. Devise a Proactive, Customer-Centric Communication Program

Many of the most destructive disasters, such as hurricanes, wildfires, and severe flooding, have a fair amount of time between when they’re first identified or predicted and when they begin to impact consumers. Proactively reaching out to customers during this time with information, offers of assistance or simple well wishes can be invaluable in building long-term loyalty. Numerous studies have found that consumers believe exemplary customer service comes not from routine, day-to-day transactions but rather interactions that happen during extreme situations like these.

  1. Ensure Consistent Program Implementation

Consumers have more, varied touchpoints with your organization — both internally and through third-party partners. Any inconsistency in strategy or treatment along this customer journey can dramatically erode trust and opinion of your company and services. It’s critical to have a process to consistently implement your customer communication strategy across all areas of the organization — or your attempts to assist your customer and enhance your brand will be lost.

Putting It Into Practice
Incorporating these principles into your customer communication strategy during times of crisis will increase efficiency in both strategy formulation and execution. It’ll also garner exceptionally positive feedback from both consumers and regulators regarding your approach.

Genesys AppFoundry partner, ContactRelief, provides the Disaster Decision Engine for the PureCloud® and PureConnectTM platforms, to assist Genesys customers in implementing these concepts into their overall strategy. Schedule a free, 60-minute discovery call with ContactRelief to learn more.