When your phone stops working

How long could your business cope without telephone access? Depending on the nature of your business the first hour or so of being without a phone might see beneficial. As you get your head down and catch up on outstanding paperwork or hold impromptu training sessions, the silent handset may languish unnoticed on your desk.

But think of all those customers and suppliers who are trying to get hold of you. And realistically how much of your paperwork can you clear without having to just pick up the phone and check a detail or agree the way forward on an ongoing project? Then there are the businesses which depend on telephones in order to function, taking and making orders, answering queries, or even just advertising opening hours and special offers. For them, even a delay of a few minutes can have an impact.

So whilst Ofcom’s new compensation regime which came into effect on 1 April 2019 is welcome, businesses which depend on telephone and broadband may well still need to look for alternative methods of communication should their lines fail. The Ofcom scheme is designed to benefit residential broadband and telephone customers as well as those businesses which currently use residential landline and broadband services. From its inception, compensation payments will automatically be made for the following scenarios:

  • £5 per day if an agreed service start date is missed
  • £25 if an engineer fails to turn up to an agreed appointment or any appointment is cancelled within 24 hours of the agreed time
  • £8 per day if a landline or broadband service stops working and is not fixed within two days

The major phone and broadband companies which together account for some 95% of broadband and phone services in the UK have signed up to the new regime. Commenting on the scheme Sharon White, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “We think it’s unacceptable that people should be kept waiting for a new line, or a fault to be fixed.”

Compensation or not, while you are waiting business has to go on. This is where a business continuity, or disaster recovery, plan comes into its own. Whether you line has gone down or whether your phone line is working but you are unable to access your premises, being able to stay in touch with your customers and others can help to mitigate loss and speed up recovery.

Disaster recovery plans will vary depending on the size and nature of the business. For some, a simple divert to mobile may be sufficient. For others, a hosted PBX switchboard which mirrors the existing phone system may be the preferred solution. In between those two extremes there are host of variables including company information lines, answer phones and bulk SMS texting. By deploying a mix of solutions, companies can help to ensure that their staff, customers, suppliers and others are kept fully up to date and that the day-to-day business of the organisation carries on insofar as that is possible.

The key to successful deployment of disaster recovery plans is that those plans are drawn up in good time. Start planning now and if you should have a problem with your phone lines in future, then at least you can carry on communicating while the problem is being remedied.

Written by Alison