'Coping in Crisis Conditions'--How the Latest Communications Technologies Can Help.

Author:Payne, Jeremy

When crisis hits, the implications typically extend well beyond the immediate problem. Rather like the ripples from a stone flung into a pond, the effects can extend infinitely outward. Businesses and organisations more generally often get embroiled in the disruption. We see it all the time--the difficulties caused by a sudden snowstorm; the impact of product recalls on businesses and the public, the air travel chaos caused by the 2010 Icelandic volcano eruption, and the effects of outbreaks of illness such as seasonal influenza and particularly severe, the recent spread of coronavirus.

All these events--to a lesser or greater degree--impact society and result in widespread organisational disruption. To an extent this is inevitable but at times of crisis like those outlined above technology can play an important role in helping to minimise the impact of events and keep key organisational infrastructure up and running.

It could be as simple as keeping customers informed whether that be, for example, in the event of a power outage, a water supply cut-off, or a mobile phone network going down. Increasingly, contact centres are choosing to opt for self-service options, such as web and voice interaction, to provide anxious callers with access to information, status updates, and to steer priority calls quickly to the right advisor. Modern voice interaction systems have taken what used to be traditional IVR to a whole new level of sophistication. Leveraging mobile devices and visually driven menus alongside Al- enabled bots working in harmony with human agents helps provide streamlined intelligent interaction handling that can scale easily.

Cloud-based connectivity can also be key in helping organisations to manage crisis situations more effectively. During disruptive weather conditions, they can quickly bring new home workers online without requiring them to travel into the office. Moreover, if there is a sudden customer surge due to a product failure or a serious concern, adding extra resource through the cloud will enable them to deal with it quickly and efficiently.

In the world of healthcare and, in particular, in dealing with the spread of viruses and other illnesses, the use of cloud can also be instrumental in enabling providers to access expert resource which may not be geographically close to the problem. The ability, for example, to use a combination of cloud, unified communications platforms, high-quality high definition cameras, and...

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