Call center disaster recovery planning best practices

Independent disaster recovery expert Paul Kirvan offers some best practices for call center disaster recovery planning in this Expert Answer.

Can you outline some best practices for call center disaster recovery?

Call centers have unique requirements that should be considered when creating a disaster recovery plan. In addition to general DR planning best practices, here are a number of specific considerations:

  • Document and test routing and processing of call center (CC) calls to agent homes.
  • Examine options for alternate routing of calls across carriers.
  • Determine if an alternate physical cable path into the telecom service office providing facilities to the CC can be implemented.
  • Examine backup options for MPLS service to enhance call routing and completing capabilities.
  • Examine alternate routing options to the Internet by more than one ISP.
  • Establish an action plan in case of an Internet service outage.
  • Identify and review local telephone carrier plans to address a catastrophic outage in its switching office.
  • Investigate cloud-based CC service providers, including their service performance track record, experience with service disruptions and how they handled them, experience developing and testing DR plans for their services, and acceptance of service-level agreements for CC performance.
  • Establish call re-direction services and document procedures for activating them with local telephone companies and other carriers.
  • Document all incoming circuits and other relevant network services to identify possible service single points of failure.
  • Discuss disaster recovery options with local telephone carriers to reduce their position as a possible single point of failure for the CC.
  • Establish, document and regularly test options for re-establishing VPNs used by the CC if a service outage occurs.
  • Initiate regular testing of emergency power systems at all locations; ensure that switchover procedures (from primary to emergency power) are documented.
  • Identify options to supplement existing primary power supplies with UPS equipment, batteries and other emergency power systems.
  • Identify options to back up specialized services (e.g., OC3 or Ethernet).
  • Consider deploying alternate locations such as a secondary data center as a DR site for the CC; document and test failover procedures for each site, establish procedures for relocating CC staff as needed.
  • Establish a formal policy for moving agents to home offices in an emergency.
  • Establish, document and regularly test the CC system’s ability to rapidly transition to an alternate work site environment; verify which applications can also be transitioned and if screen pops and CTI (computer-telephony integration) functions can be performed remotely.
  • Ensure that agents are cross-trained so that if they have to relocate to an alternate CC site they can become productive quickly.
  • Establish, document and regularly test disaster recovery plans for all CC applications and technologies; ensure that critical systems can fail over to an alternate site.
  • Ensure that documented instructions for conference bridges (on-site or hosted) are available and that multiple CC associates are trained in how to activate and manage the bridge.
  • Ensure that documented instructions for any other specialized systems associated with the CC (e.g., interactive voice response) are available and that employees are trained in how to activate and manage them.
  • Establish a process and schedule for regularly reviewing and updating contact lists.
  • Establish a process and schedule to document and regularly test disaster recovery plans and procedures.

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