5 Must-have Communications Features to Prepare Your Business for Disasters
Natural disasters can strike at anytime and have become more frequent and severe in recent years as a result of climate change. Over the past 60 years, there have been over 2,000 major disasters declared in the United States.
September is recognized as National Preparedness Month and a great reminder of how important it is to be prepared for anything. We’ve been saying it for years, but having a business continuity plan in place is an absolute must for every business. Last week, President Obama reaffirmed how critical it is for businesses to prepare for the unexpected in his National Proclamation for National Preparedness month. “I encourage those in the business community to prepare their employees, develop a business continuity plan, and engage in community-level planning to help ensure our communities and private sector remain strong when faced with an emergency.”
When disasters strike, businesses suffer significant financial loss, so great, that some never reopen. The average business loses an astonishing $5,000 per hour when they are down! According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, an estimated 25 percent of businesses never reopen following a major disaster.
Communications is by far the most important component in business, so ensuring your communications with customers and clients remains intact is the first step in preparation. When your business has the right technology in place, you gain the ability to operate, regardless of the conditions at your physical business location.
Cloud unified communications (UC) solutions offer businesses new opportunities for flexibility, mobility and business continuity. However, not all UC solutions are created equal. The degree to which cloud phone systems are hosted in the cloud have proved to be essential to the level of flexibility they can deliver. Downtime and on-site failures can be severely reduced when everything is secured 100 percent in the cloud.
Here are 5 must-have communication features your cloud solution should offer and how they can prepare your business for disasters:
1. Online Management
Having all of your critical communications secured in the cloud and accessible online from any device is imperative to business continuity. You want to ensure your communication features can not only be accessed from anywhere, but managed quickly and easily. Having the ability to make important changes from anywhere, such as rerouting calls to outside phones, recording greetings and auto attendants, checking voicemail and sending a fax, are all critical to keeping customers informed and staying connected in the event of closure.
2. Video Conferencing
Having the right software and applications in place not only makes your day-to-day business more efficient, but can really be a life saver during disastrous circumstances. Quality high definition audio, video and web conferencing solutions offer the ability to collaborate easily anytime. Virtual face-to-face meetings grant you the flexibility to share important documents, give presentations and meet with clients and colleagues from anywhere in real-time. Your business really won't skip a beat with the right conferencing solution in place.
Empowering your employees with the right tools to keep your business communications intact in advance is key. Softphones are a great way for business calls to remain professional off-site. With softphones, any PC, MAC or smartphone can be turned into your office phone, utilizing your same phone number, extension and settings. This ensures employees can communicate just as if they were in the office, using company minutes. And, the best part is, the company phone number for their outbound Caller ID always remains professional.
4. Mobile Twinning
When you are not sure where you will be, mobile twinning is the perfect feature to have in place. Mobile twinning provides the unique ability to utilize your mobile phone, business phone or any other phone you choose interchangeably. When twinning is enabled, your office phone and the other phone number you select, will ring simultaneously. This ensure that you can pick up the call on either phone and never miss an important call no matter where you are. This is an ideal feature to have in place as part of every disaster preparedness plan because even if twinning is not turned on and a disaster strikes, your employees can instantly turn the feature on through their online portal, from anywhere. And, even though calls may ring on your twinned phone number, if the call is not answered, the caller is sent to your office voicemail, not your personal voicemail, instilling callers always hear a professional greeting .
5. Automatic Failover
Although cloud-based communication solutions are much more reliable than traditional phone line services, disastrous events could still affect your internet connection. Therefore, having a backup method for internet access is fundamental to have in place. Automatic VoIP Failover options ensure if your primary line of communications or internet connection should fail, your service is automatically switched over to an alternate failover line, or even public internet access. This feature ensures you don’t experience any downtime and is a definite must-have for every cloud phone customer.
Businesses may face challenging circumstances where they need to physically close due to an emergency. Whether it's a minor outage or a catastrophic event, adopting the right unified communications solution and these essential features in advance will help ensure business takes place as usual from wherever you need it to.