Teamphone believes that unless UK businesses create more effective business continuity plans for phone services they run the risk of serious communications failure should an emergency situation (such as a power cut, flood, fire or terrorist attack) occur.
The telecoms infrastructures of major British companies are too reliant on systems and resources based at single office locations, the company believes, meaning that should these offices be forced to close, communications could become difficult, if not impossible.
“So much of the current debate about business continuity planning is focused on data services” claims Teamphone CEO Geoffrey Paterson. “Yet in the event of a catastrophic event, it is the phone that most people turn to first. Should an office closure occur unexpectedly, UK businesses must ensure that their employees can be contacted at all times, wherever they are, so that it’s business as usual.”
Paterson offers the following five tips to organisations looking to develop robust business continuity plans for corporate telephony:
Tip 1: Ensure that telephone resources are location-independent. If you operate a traditional telephone system – or telephone-based contact centre system – from a single location, then ensure that these resources can be rapidly replicated at an alternative site, including the business intelligence that determines how incoming customer calls are routed to Service Advisors
Tip 2: Ensure that calls to individuals’ office phones can be instantly diverted to home numbers or mobiles. Alternatively, give employees location-independent phone numbers. Providing location-independent numbers provides the added benefit that calls can be answered on whatever device users have to hand (desk phones, mobiles, PDAs or VoIP-enabled laptops) when working away from their main offices
Tip 3: Ensure that corporate phone users can change their phone preferences (e.g. where calls are directed, their ‘presence’ settings, voice mail messages etc.) wherever they are, using any web-enabled device
Tip 4: Think ‘service’ not ‘number’. When using hosted telephony services, ensure that service providers offer business continuity support on a team basis (i.e. in an emergency situation, they can take incoming calls that would normally be delivered to ‘sales’ or ‘support’ teams and deliver them to those same team members at their new work locations)
Tip 5: Ensure that your hosted telephony service allows key personnel to log onto company voice networks anywhere, on any phone. Whenever possible, Teamphone recommends that such a capability is built into Telephony Best Practices and used on a day-to-day basis so that employees don’t need to learn new procedures if an emergency arises
Many forward-looking UK organisations are already building these facilities into their communications services, claims Paterson, driven not just by Business Continuity requirements but also by the desire to support flexible working.
BT is one organisation that has already benefited considerably from the adoption of flexible working. “Employee productivity has increased by 31% and customer satisfaction by 8% in the areas where we have introduced flexible working” states Peter Knowles, BT’s Workstyle Business Development Director. “In addition, our property costs have fallen by around £180m, absenteeism by 63% and fuel costs by £10m. 99% of BT flexible working employees now return to work following maternity leave. A happier workforce has also meant employee satisfaction has increased by 14% and staff attrition amongst flexible workers is at a lowly 3-4% per annum.”