For most companies, disaster planning centers around recovering data. While that’s clearly a critical factor in your company’s ability to survive a major disruption, it’s also important to consider how you’ll communicate with customers and team members in the aftermath of a disaster.
If, for instance, your company is affected by a disaster, you have to be able to reach out for help, and to let customers know what’s going on. If you’re not affected, or have recovered successfully, you’ll certainly want to let customers know.
Either way, having a plan in place before a disaster takes place is an important factor in being able to communicate if one does. It’s critical to think through the various what-ifs in advance, so you can avoid trying to make important decisions in the confusing wake of a major outage.
A mobile broadband connection, either through a laptop aircard or Mi-Fi portable hotspot, can be a valuable tool for reestablishing your company’s data and voice communications.
For extra protection, it’s a good idea to establish a mobile broadband account with a separate provider than your regular wireless and Internet services. If one provider’s network is disrupted, having alternatives can improve your ability to get online when you need access, or if you relocate to an area better served by the alternate provider.
A mobile broadband connection can increase the flexibility of your routine operations, and the monthly service fee will prove to be a valuable investment if your primary connection is disrupted.
Where’s Your List?
Another critical factor to consider is the location of data stored in your CRM system. If you’re using a web-based CRM platform, getting access to customer data should be as easy as getting an online connection. If you’re storing data locally on your network, accessing that information will likely depend on getting physical access to your workplace or recovering the data from a backup.
The choice between local or online storage is up to you, but either way, understand the implications and know how to access data after a major outage.
Check Your Backups
Speaking of your backups, it’s a good idea to periodically try to recover data so you know your backup is configured properly and that you know how to recover your files and documents.
A major disruption is upsetting enough without having the extra stress of trying to learn how to recover data, or to learn that information you thought was backed up safely hasn’t been protected.
By developing communications plans before you need to activate them, you can avoid a lot of confusion and delays in getting your business online, and up and running again.
Every disaster is different, but the need to communicate remains constant.
One of the first was Marge’s, a sandwich and ice cream shop in Stratford that, like large chunks of the state, lost power during the storm. Rather than throwing out melting ice cream, they posted on Facebook that people should come down for free cones. And when their power returned, they continued to offer free blocks of ice to neighbors who needed power.
More significantly than free ice cream, we saw several health clubs offering the use of their showers, whether or not affected people were members.
Zane’s, a bike shop in Branford where I’ve spent a fair amount of money over the years, sent an email offering showers, wi-fi, ice, coffee, and a place to hang out. If you need something else, they said, just ask.
There were some reports of price-gouging, but those were scattered and anecdotal. More common were simple but powerful gestures that showed a lot about those companies and the people that run them.
By looking out for other people and offering help, they’re making impressions that will last well after the clean-up is over.