Mother Nature can strike anywhere at any time, so any successful business must prepare. Whether it’s an earthquake, snow storm, hurricane, or even a

Photo Credit: PhotoXpress

Photo Credit: PhotoXpress

simple blackout, the process of “business as usual” can interfere with your ability to provide the high-standard of customer service your clients deserve. You can, and should protect your business by identifying risks associated with natural and man-made disasters by creating an action plan, and keeping that plan updated. Without a back-up/action plan, you could be in the 25% of businesses that never are able to re-open after a major disaster. (according to a report  by the Institute for Business and Home Safety)  Following a disaster, statistics show ninety (that’s 90) percent of companies fail within a year unless they can resume operations within five days. Having a plan can ensure that you’re back in business quickly and able to provide products and services to your community.

 A key part of this plan is ensuring you have a way to outsource your basic functions, such as your telephone system. Answering services  provide 24/7 live answering services to businesses of all sizes.  An experienced answering service should have emergency and back-up plans in place to help businesses like yours run seamlessly during extreme weather conditions. Implementing an outsourced back-up plan can save your business thousands or even millions of dollars in lost revenue, if not save your business all together.

Here are some tips to help you develop your communications plan: DEVELOPING YOUR COMMUNICATIONS PLAN

  1. Start with a General Risk Assessment:
    • Identify the top threats to your organization and any vulnerabilities
    • Analyze what business functions are critical to your operations
    • Identify the resources needed to protect those critical business functions
    • People, Processes, Technology required and Communications needs associated with each
  2. Establish a Crisis Management Team, and those within that group responsible for Communications.
  3. Partner with an answering service which provides local service and which has a network of nationwide support.
  4. Develop and regularly update an Emergency Contact List to include: Home Phone, Alternate Mobile. Personal E‐mail. Family Contact Information, and an Evacuation Plan
  5. Consider setting up an Alert Notification System capable of multiple means of communication to employees, stakeholders & clients.  TEST this system regularly and ensure employees are familiar. This could be something you use in partnership with your answering service to help you send out alerts.
  6. Establish a separate, formal notification plan for employees’ immediate families and close relatives in the event of loss of life, missing personnel, etc.  Additionally, ensure that caregivers and daycare operators upon whom employees depend can receive appropriate information.
  7. Ensure that a formal system exists to integrate new hires into the Crisis Communications Plan
  8. Consider establishing a public hot line, or a “dark” Website that can be activated on short notice to provide information during an emergency to everyone in the community
  9. Consider an Online Social Networking Platform for web‐based crisis communications (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
  10. Establish a universal and easily accessible database of information about the company and disaster strategies and plans. Database should include company background information, critical documents, key contacts, passwords, etc.
  11. Consider setting up a password‐protected online message board specific to your organization
It is true, we cannot prepare for everything, but we certainly can try to beat the odds. By doing your best to prepare, you can keep your business communications going and make it possible to get your company back on its feet quickly after any disaster.  Direct Line has built and tested a  two-phase contingency plan. In phase one, we utilize our own backup systems internally which includes generators and other grid-free resources. As a back-up, we are prepared with a second phase where we can utilize our network of business partners throughout the nation (across the U.S.) to ensure that should we have a state-wide disaster, that our customer’s services keep on working like clockwork.We are prepared with a total disaster preparedness plan that will insure your communication links stay up, and provide you a solid footing in your own disaster preparation. Direct Line TeleResponse is here, prepared, and ready for you and your customers when you really need us. We know that the company that is prepared and stays connected has a huge capital advantage during any emergency situation.

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