The National Climatic Data Center has reported that the United States records an average of over 1,000 tornadoes each year, many of which cause significant damage to homes and companies. With the country at the peak of tornado season, businesses need to be prepared to handle a potential natural disaster. Beyond securing building infrastructure, it’s crucial to take steps to minimize any disruption in communications with employees or customers so that the company can continue to function in spite of any weather issues. Below are five tips that companies can implement to ensure they can weather the storm:
- Prepare a Back-Up Plan
Perhaps a given, preparation can mean the difference between a weeklong outage and a seamless transition to a back-up plan. Preparation steps can include setting up a protocol and business plan, obtaining personal contact information for employees (email, address, emergency contacts) and setting a point person for all emergencies. By having a plan in place and educating employees on natural disaster protocols as well as the dos and don’ts of tornado safety, companies can cut back on outages in communication and lessen the potential of liabilities during an actual emergency. Keep in mind that after a plan is implemented, it’s important to test the plan to confirm it runs properly and make any needed tweaks.
- Recognize the Importance of Virtualization
The use of virtualization enables employees to communicate even during an emergency. During tornado warnings, most businesses permit their employees to work from home as a safety precaution. By ensuring your office communications system is virtualized, employees will be able to stay in contact with one another as well as customers regardless of whether they’re in the office
- Make Sure Your Documents are Protected
Virtualization does more than just help employees communicate: it can also provide access from anywhere to important documents and files. If employees can’t come into the office due to an emergency, they can access needed files from a secure cloud server and thus keep the business moving while being safe at home. In the same vein, make sure all documents are saved on a remote server and regularly backed up. This way, even if the building is impacted by a tornado, the files are safely stored elsewhere.
- Have a Plan for Your Customers
For service providers that strive to ensure continuous service to customers, keeping an effective communications system is crucial during a tornado. A secure system will allow you to keep your customers informed of all company closings, updates in service and other activities during a storm. Practices that work well include redirecting customer calls to a non-effected office or using automated answering services to provide back-up contacts in case the lines are down.
- Track and Alter Your Protocol Based on Experiences
It’s important to put tracking and reporting tools in place ahead of time so you can understand how your communications systems and back-up plans have performed after the fact. Remember to make these evaluations as soon as you can after the storm hits. Metrics can include: total number of calls received from customers and employees, how many calls were answered versus abandoned at each location, average hold time and more. Finally, a good tracking suite will include the ability to export data to an easily accessible spreadsheet format for quick analysis. By tracking a wide range of metrics, businesses can determine areas for improvement and adjust protocols as needed the next time.
By creating and implementing the right protocols and communications systems ahead of natural disasters, businesses can ensure they will keep their employees safe and accessible during one of the year’s most-dangerous weather seasons.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Storm Relief: 5 Tips to Ensure Effective Communication Systems During Tornado Season
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