Mother Nature has shown that she can pack a punch, often when it’s least expected. From flooding to snowstorms to high winds, these weather incidents can impact your customer care functions. If your customer is based in a different location, they may not realize why they cannot reach you or why your hold times are abnormally long.

Let’s explore 8 ways extreme weather can impact your customer care function and how to prepare.

  1. Loss of Power. In some parts of the country, rolling blackouts and downed lines due to high wind are nothing new. These businesses have invested in generator backup power. At the very least, every business should have battery backups for their critical systems. Even if your customer care function is in an area where power loss is infrequent, this is one area you need to get squared away. Next, consider how you’ll reroute your systems if the power is out for several days. This is where your business’ emergency preparedness plan comes into play.
  2. Internet Connection Interruptions. Whether it’s slow service to no service, interruptions in your connectivity can cause real problems for your customer service function. Do you have a backup service or a secondary provider that runs in parallel with your current service? If not, consider getting a backup in place before you need it.
  3. Data Access. Where is your data stored? Is it locally stored on your server in the building, or is it in the cloud? If your data is local, make sure there are data backups both locally and offsite. For data stored in the cloud, determine how you’ll reach your data in the case of a loss of power or connectivity.
  4. Call/Contact Volume Fluctuation. Your product or service may be in demand, causing customers to urgently seek support. Responding to sudden spikes in call volume requires a great system to handle these fluctuations in real-time. Perhaps you keep some of your employees in on-call status to be tapped when needed or switch your reps to refresher training during slow periods.
  5. Emergency Services Blocked. In the case of extreme weather, emergency services may be cut off from your location or too overwhelmed to respond promptly. Keep essential supplies at your location, such as a first aid kit, emergency blankets, water, and flashlights. Depending on the size of your operation, consider investing in additional equipment such as a portable AED defibrillator.
  6. Employee Transportation. Severe weather can make it hard for employees to get to and from work. Depending on potential threats in your area, you may want to consider keeping enough supplies to shelter in place for at least a day. Develop a plan to support employees when it becomes unsafe for them to leave your facility. For those team members who cannot make it into work safely, determine if you can provide remote working options to keep your customer care function operational.
  7. Cellular Service Drops. With so many cellular providers, it’s hard to picture a time when cell service is completely cut off. But consider the case of a tornado or hurricane or even in which service is interrupted. It’s smart to have a battery-powered radio to listen to weather updates, a handheld portable CB radio to communicate with emergency personnel, and a battery bank to keep cell phones charged.
  8. Social Engineering or Online Attacks. Hackers may use a weather event as an opportunity to access systems such as your website, email or phone server, or leverage vulnerabilities in your network. This may also be when unscrupulous individuals chose to engage in social engineering and capitalize on your team’s panic. Ensure your systems are always secured and up-to-date and that your people are well-trained to thwart attacks.

These are just a few ways your customer care function could be impacted by Mother Nature. Take steps now to prepare and you’ll be thanking yourself down the road.