Florida is a great state to establish a business but unfortunately it is also prone to tropical storms and hurricanes which can disrupt business operations. Companies based in the Sunshine State are therefore advised to have strong business continuity plans including full redundancy for their call center operations.
Helping to facilitate call center network redundancy are today’s software-as-a-service-based call center software solutions. These Web-based systems enable businesses to “virtualize” their call center environment – which means agents can access all call center applications from any computer with a high speed connection.
Once companies establish a “virtual call center,” they are in a prime position to take advantage of a distributed call center network including the much-coveted home-based agent model. More importantly, virtual call centers allow companies to establish business continuity plans that enable employees to work from home in the event of a storm or some other event that might prevent them from arriving at work.
Fort Lauderdale-based Spirit Incentives, which specializes in consumer travel incentives -- cruise, airfare and hotel incentive packages -- and rebate programs, is one South Florida business that is prepared should a storm roll through and cause disruptions.
A few years ago the company deployed Contactual
’s OnDemand Contact Center
solution – a fully Web-based system facilitating remote back-up and anywhere connectivity for call center agents. As such the system has played a key role in the company’s disaster planning
“Here in South Florida, our biggest threat is hurricanes,” said Clayton Gring, COO for Spirit Incentives, in a customer case study posted to Contactual’s (News
) website. “Anything can happen to our facility. We don’t own the building, so we have been at the mercy of the building owners who have strict weather-related policies. We are close to the ocean, so whenever there are weather warnings, our building is immediately closed and that’s a serious disruption to our business model.”
Gring said when Hurricane Wilma hit Florida in 2005, the company’s facility in Fort Lauderdale wasn’t damaged, but it did lose power and was out of commission for about two weeks. In addition the company’s back up facility was also affected and wasn’t available either.
“To keep our business running, we had to move our entire operation, with a skeleton crew, to Orlando – 250 miles north – and work there for two weeks,” Gring said. “It was quite a shock -- but we serviced our customers and clients and maintained continuity.”
“It’s expensive when something like that happens,” he added. “Thankfully, our business associates in Orlando allowed us to use their facilities, but we still had staff travel and lodging expenses. Plus, we didn’t want to ever have to impose on our friends like that again.”
As a result of that incident, Spirit Incentives set out to find a virtual call center solution to augment its existing on-premises system and ensure business continuity.
The company ended up selecting Contactual’s virtual call center software because it was quick and easy to deploy; required minimal up-front investment; delivered the features and functionality it needed; and perhaps most importantly, allowed it to establish a fully-redundant, virtual call center environment.
“We interviewed a lot of virtual call center vendors and viewed their demos,” Gring said. “We had a really good understanding of what our needs were. It was a matter of finding a solution that would allow us to plug in easily. Contactual was such a perfect fit, because it was so non-intrusive.”
As a result of the switch, Spirit Incentives ended up doing away with its back-up call center, which saved the company a bundle.
“Contactual replaced a fully-equipped, redundant call center that was costing us thousands of dollars per month as a back-up facility,” Gring said. “We estimate that Contactual will save us in excess of $100,000 for our first year of usage.”
“If we have any crisis that shuts down our call center in the building where we are, Contactual allows us to continue our operations seamlessly,” he added.
Ultimately Spirit Incentives plans to do away with its legacy call center system and make Contactual’s virtual call center software its everyday system. In addition the company was planning on launching a nationwide home-based agent program this year.
Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.
To learn more about how Contactual’s virtual call center solution can improve your business continuity planning, check out the company’s Website
, or to download a free copy of the customer case study, click here
Edited by Patrick Barnard