Virtual PBX Featured Article

Cloud Communications Offers Continuity Options for Hurricane Harvey Impacted Businesses

September 01, 2017

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

When natural disasters, such as what’s happening in Texas as a result of Hurricane Harvey, occur, the capacity of local, state, and even national resources is put to a test to provide immediate assistance to residents.  If you’ve turned on the news for even a few minutes lately, you’re aware of the massive efforts to ensure the safety of residents in southeast Texas and parts of Louisiana, where unprecedented rainfall has caused record flooding and damage.

For days, networks have been showing footage of rescue personnel working side-by-side with local boat owners as they delivered stranded people and pets to safety.   That, unfortunately, is only the beginning – the nation has witnessed other extremely damaging hurricanes in recent history – Katrina in August of 2005 also in the Gulf Coast region, and Sandy on the Atlantic coastline in 2012.  We know the recovery for Houston and the rest of the region will be long and costly – it’s fair to say New Orleans only recently fully recovered from Katrina.  Fortunately, countless businesses and individuals have already pledged their assistance, from tech and phone companies who are eliminating fees and/or calling limits on plans for impacted customers, to other vendors shipping truckloads of food, water, and supplies to the region.

Customer service organizations in various industries – emergency services, insurance, healthcare, utilities, and many other services – are also going to be put to the test for months to come, as residents and businesses deal with the damages.  Many call centers have already set up additional facilities and agents to help with the increased demand, but much more is likely to be needed.  The last thing any company wants is to make customers have to wait in queue for longer than is absolutely necessary.

That requires not only additional technology, for which cloud-based communications and call center platforms are absolutely ideal – they allow remote and home-based agents to be set up in minutes – but also the ability to bring on additional staffing to handle the call volumes.  In addition,  a loarge number of local businesses are likely to be displaced for an extended period.  Cloud phone systems will allow them to continue to operate while their facilities are repaired – employees can work from home or other remote locations, using a softphone or IP deskphone.

It’s not a perfect scenario by any means and, even if businesses are able to function with their cloud services, the recovery process both professionally and personally will be slow and painful.  The hope is technology can make is just a bit easier by providing access to the right resources quickly and help the process move forward positively, and that cloud services and other providers will go out of their way to help.

Edited by Erik Linask


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