Sales Management Digest

Create a Disaster-Recovery Plan for Customer Service
Matt Lautz
Businesses need to be prepared for when external dynamics challenge their foundations. This is especially true when it comes to their first line of defense: customer service.

Unexpected situations can result in the flooding of customer service departments by angry customers. No matter how well customers have been treated in the past, the way customer service handles unexpected situations can make or break a business.

Sales leaders should make every effort to prepare for the worst-case scenario so they aren't taken by surprise. That way, they can still aim to appease customers with excellent service during times of distress. When preparing for emergency situations, an on-guard mentality can help businesses ensure that customer interactions are as seamless as possible. Here are four tips to help your company mitigate the impact of unexpected events:
  1. Create a customer service disaster recovery team. Businesses often have operational or IT disaster recovery teams, but don't forget about customer service. Identify your strongest customer service representatives based on response time and their ability to handle difficult situations while staying calm under pressure. Be sure that there's a strong leader involved to help direct traffic. This team should be in place in advance so you know who's capable of delivering the best customer service possible in an emergency situation.
  2. Consider all crisis scenarios. Discard the "it can't happen to us" mentality. Ask yourself whether you have considered all situations in which your customer service team might receive an influx of requests. While it's difficult to do, try to think out of the box when envisioning how you would handle natural disasters, data breaches, or product recalls in ways that suit your business's crisis-resolution philosophy.
  3. Have a disaster-recovery plan in place. You can never prepare too much when it comes to handling customer needs. Create a disaster-recovery plan that addresses various scenarios, identifies your disaster-recovery team, and outlines the various steps and protocols that would ideally take place before, during, and after the event. When you are confident that your plan of action encompasses an optimal approach, conduct drills to test it, such as role-playing with your customer service team. Also, distribute the plan of action throughout the company to ensure that, in the event of a disaster, leaders of all departments are on the same page.
  4. Implement a CRM solution. In order for businesses to make the most of every customer interaction, solid customer relationship management (CRM) tools should be in place to allow for a timely, personalized response. Many CRM platforms provide multiple outlets for providing customer service – case-management tools, email responses, live-chat integration, and social-media capabilities – that will allow you to reach your customers through any channel of support. Look for one that offers unified communications capabilities or integration with your phone or contact-center systems.
Whatever your business, unexpected events can potentially have a serious negative impact on your company. While we can't predict the next threat, we can do our best to predict how we will react. Protect your business, customers, and revenue by creating a best-in-class, well-prepared customer service team.
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