Disaster Recovery And Business Continuity Phone Services

Disaster can strike at any time. If your organisation is not prepared, the consequences can be serious. 

Having a disaster recovery / business continuity plan in place is a smart move.

One area that is simple to sort out but often overlooked is your backup phone systems, which will enable your business to continue trading with minimum disruption.

What is a disaster?

A disaster can be classed as anything that affects the ability of your organisation to function properly.

Disaster Recovery Overview

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  • Operates outside your own infrastructure.
  • Can integrate with your existing number.
  • UK & worldwide coverage.
  • Fully customisable routing options.
  • Ability to handle tens of thousands of calls per hour.
  • Announcements updates by phone and web.
  • Sits dormant until needed.
  • Online customization, management, call data and reports.

At one end of the scale there are terrorist attacks, which are thankfully very rare. When they do happen, any organization caught up in them will likely face a huge amount of disruption for an extended period of time, both in terms of damage / lack of access to infrastructure and also danger and inconvenience to staff.

But for most organizations the most likely threats come from other sources.

Widespread flooding in the UK in recent years has affected hundreds if not thousands of organizations.

FireFire could destroy your organization’s premises. Even a fire in an adjacent building could cause enough disruption to give you a real headache. One of our clients had offices adjacent to the Buncefield Oil Depot, which exploded and burned for a couple of days back in 2005. They were unable to access their premises for a few weeks due to the structural damage caused by the blast. Thankfully, they had a full disaster recovery and service continuity plan in place so were able to manage the situation.

Another client of ours had a less dramatic but still just as disruptive disaster in their organization. Their BT office pbx switchboard was located in the basement, which then got flooded. The pbx got damaged and stopped working, knocking out their whole system. Thankfully they had a hosted Callagenix service standing by for just such a disaster. Their service went active and they were able to continue communicating with clients and suppliers until the flood water was drained and their regular pbx was fixed.

A large traffic accident near your premises could prevent staff getting to work for a prolonged period. A burst pipe might cause damage and make your offices unusable for a few days. High winds and stormy conditions might damage your building and make it unsafe for your staff to work in.

Are you prepared for the worst?

floodWhen disaster does strike, you need to be ready. A vitally important but often neglected part of this is your telecommunications – how you handle incoming calls and communicate with your staff, clients and suppliers.

Some simple, cost-effective and easy to set up services from Callagenix can provide you with a robust and flexible solution to help keep your organization functioning no matter what the world throws at it.

You design your back up plan (we can help with that too) and then choose the solutions you need. They sit dormant in the background, ready at any time for you to set them live. This might be when you want to run a scheduled test, or if you should ever be unfortunate enough to be facing a real emergency. As soon as things return to normal you can seamlessly switch back to your regular telephone set up.

You may not ever need them (and hopefully you won’t). One thing’s for sure though, if you ever need to activate our services, you’ll be very glad you had the foresight to set them up. With prices starting from as low as £142 a year, they are a very affordable way to protect your organization and get the peace of mind that comes with having a solid back-up solution in place.

Designing Your Telephone Disaster Recovery Plan

There are two main areas you should consider when designing your plan; communicating with staff and service continuity.

Below is an outline of our suggested systems and solutions for each. We’ll cover the individual services in more detail afterwards.

1. Communicating with staff

You should have a plan in place to keep all your staff informed of the latest developments. In a small organisation this is obviously much easier and may only involve a few phone calls, whereas in a large organisation this can be more troublesome.

We recommend three services to help you manage staff communication and safety; an Information Line, an Answerphone service and Bulk SMS messaging.

The Information Line is a recorded message you can use to keep everyone up to date. Staff call in to get updates and instructions on what they should do. This is useful, for example, if you have a lot of staff who all work at a site that is not accessible for a few days. The Information Line can tell them not to go to the office and instead direct them to either work from home or go to an alternative location.

The Answerphone service can be used a roll call of all staff at the affected site. Using this, you can first of all check they are okay and have them confirm they have received any messages you have sent out. Staff members call a pre-determined number and leave a message, which is then picked up and handled. Messages can be accessed over the phone, or sent as a .wav audio file to an email address and played on a computer / smart device. Should anybody not get in touch, you can reach out to them directly or raise the alarm as appropriate.

Using the Bulk SMS service you can send out a message to your staff advising them of the situation and telling them what to do next (such as call the Information Line for further instructions). This is a quick and easy way to reach everybody fast.

2. Service continuity

How would you cope if your phones went down for a few days?

It’s a scary thought, but we have solutions to help you get through tough times like this:

  • You can set up an Information Line to play a recorded message for clients / users to keep them informed in the short term as you work to get things back to normal.
  • You can use Bulk SMS messaging to clients and suppliers to update them and provide them with alternative contact details.
  • You can set up a hosted pbx switchboard solution to mirror your company’s phone system, then use it with call divert services to forward calls to alternative destinations, such as a mobile phone number, or to staff in another office. This can also be used with a group divert system to ensure that all calls are answered by the first available person, no matter where they are.

storm damageIf you currently use another provider for your phone services (such as BT) you will need to set things up ahead of time so you can activate call diversion and direct your calls on to our hosted services in case of an emergency. In BT’s case this is called BT Smart Service. They set it up for you and send you the codes you need to use it. They will also add a small charge to your quarterly line rental bill for using this.

If you are already a Callagenix customer and are using our numbers the process is even easier as you can instantly divert calls to any other number or service you wish. Obviously we’re biased, but we believe there are huge advantages in using a hosted system where your phone numbers are not dependant on potentially vulnerable hardware at any specific location.

Added to that, we have a wide range of services so you can set up flexible and reliable solutions to your particular organization requirements. And that’s not to mention a large selection of numbers available, including regional, international and non-geographic numbers such as 0800 numbers, 0845 numbers and 0870 numbers – contact us for more details and advice on the best option for you.

How does it work?

As no two requirements are the same, we will work with your internal BC teams to design the perfect solution for you. We will help you discover the right combination of telephone services to integrate with and compliment your disaster recovery plans.

Once you have chosen the plan that best suits your needs, your disaster recovery telephone service will remain dormant until you declare an emergency or implement a scheduled test. During the crisis, our services keep your organisation’s communications up and running. Once the emergency is over, you simply switch back to your own internal systems. What’s more, our services and systems are extremely flexible, allowing you to monitor your calls remotely and make changes in real time to adapt to events as they unfold.

Callagenix Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity Services

Let’s look at each of the services in more detail:

Information Line

Most organizations choose to use this service with a number supplied with us. This could be an 0800 number (Freephone), an  0333 standard rate number, a local rate 0845 number or a national rate 0870 number, although it could be a regional number too.

We recommend using a number hosted by us as this will not be affected should your regular phone number be affected by any local disruption. It is always a good idea to keep your back-up services completely separate from your regular numbers.

One advantage of using our Information Line is that it can handle thousands of simultaneous calls, so your staff or clients will be able to access your recorded message and won’t be faced with an engaged tone.

The Information Line message can be updated in 3 ways; firstly you can call up, enter a PIN number a record a message over the phone, secondly you can log in and upload an audio file, thirdly you can upload a written message and our text-to-speech technology creates a spoken message for you.

Hosted PBX

The hosted pbx service is suitable for medium / large organizations. It can be set up to mirror your existing phone system. Should you need to, you can replace your staff’s existing extension numbers with their mobile number or a temporary number at another office.

For example, if you are council you can set up extensions for each of your departments, such as Housing, Environmental Health, Housing Benefit, Highways etc. and then either divert calls to staff who can deal with them, or else send callers to a recorded message and / or answerphone, depending on your resources at the time. You can change these settings at any time to match your capacity to cope with the demands of the situation.

Hosted ACD (Group Divert)

Also known as a “Hunt Group”, this hosted service allows you to direct calls to a single number or a group of numbers in any order of priority. This is ideal when you are dealing with a large number of incoming calls to a single number as it allows you to distribute the calls to your team to be dealt with.

Callers can be held in a queue (with on-hold music) and when you have a large volume of calls waiting you send the overflow to another team or direct to voicemail, whatever you prefer.

Bulk SMS

Use our Bulk SMS service to send texts to your staff and clients to let them know what’s going on.

You can set up customized number lists to enable you to contact specific groups with targeted messages. Simply choose the list you want to contact with an SMS, compose your message and send it out. Each text costs as little as 3.5p

What needs to be in your plan?

Here are some questions to help you formulate your Disaster Recovery / Service Continuity service:

  • Who is on your disaster recovery committee? List each member, along with their contact numbers (work, home, mobile).
  • Who is responsible for implementing your telecommunications strategy? List each member is order, so if the main person isn’t available the next available person can step in. Make sure everybody is aware of this and that everybody has a written copy of the instructions offsite to follow, including all login details, PIN numbers etc.
  • How are you going to communicate with your staff? If you are using an Information Line make sure the relevant people have instructions on how to set it up. If you are using Bulk SMS, make sure the relevant people have the login details and know how to send a message.
  • Ensure your staff know what to do in case of an emergency. Make sure they have the Information Line number. Send it out again by SMS if necessary. If they need to check in make sure they know which number to call and how to do this.
  • In the event of your premises being unavailable, how will people contact you? This includes clients, suppliers and emergency services. If you are using an Information Line or sending out Bulk SMS messages for callers make sure the relevant staff members know how to set them up. Don’t forget to update your website, including your Information Line number. Designated people should have your site’s login details available, preferably kept offline and off-site, and should know how to make changes to your site’s homepage.
  • Do you have alternative premises you can use? This might be a different office, space at a key supplier’s / customer’s office, or even short term at a local hotel. If you already have this planned out, did you know you can set up a virtual switchboard with Callagenix? With this you can mirror your existing phone system and divert all your current extensions onto the new numbers. You can also set up group diverts, voicemail and call diverts to other offices or mobiles. You have complete flexibility and can quickly and easily change all your settings online.

Why Choose Callagenix?

When crisis strikes you need to know your back up phone services aren’t going to let you down.

Callagenix has a proven track record of providing Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity telephone services successfully for over 12 years, with clients of ours having to activate their services in real life emergency situations.

Here are five reasons you should choose us for your telephone disaster recovery plans:

  1. We have a range of flexible and proven services available to help you build the solution to your service continuity needs. Our services have been battle tested in real crisis situations so we know they work.
  2. In addition, our own infrastructure has been designed with resilience in mind ensuring we are not reliant on a single carrier, but have direct connections to multiple global carriers, allowing us the ability to switch should one particular carrier have a local issue.
  3. We can help you design, set up and test your services before you pay us a penny. It’s a totally risk-free way to make sure our services do everything you want them to. This is ideal if you need to present your findings to your crisis team or the board for approval – instead of telling them how it all works, you can simply log in and show them. After that, any amendments are quick to make and it’s a simple process to activate your account, leaving you free to move on to your next challenge.
  4. Should you ever need to use our services you will be able to download a comprehensive MIS (Management Information System) report detailing all the calls you made through our service and their cost. This is suitable for insurance purposes when you make a claim after the emergency has passed.
  5. Reliability and quality. With a service uptime greater than 99.999% you can rely on Callagenix to be there when you need us. Our systems are manned and monitored 24/7, 365 days a year. We use multiple tier 1 carriers to route our calls, so even in the highly unlikely event one went down due to local disruption, we can instantly switch you over to another.

Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity Typical Set Up

When setting up a DR/BC solution, we typically include the following services:

Conclusion

Protecting your phone system is an area that is often overlooked when people think about disaster recovery and service continuity, yet the impact of having them go down can cripple your organisation for days.

As you can see, protecting this vital part of your organization needn’t be difficult or expensive. Robust, reliable and flexible solutions can be set up, ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. When disaster strikes you will have dozens if not hundreds of things screaming for your attention – your phone systems don’t have to be one of them. Setting up a Callagenix disaster recovery / service continuity solution quickly and easily solves your telecommunications problem, freeing up your time and attention to focus on other priority areas instead.

We also understand that each organization has its own, unique requirements, so we strongly recommend you get things started by giving us a call so we can help you find the best solution for your particular circumstances.

Pricing

Disaster Recovery Solutions

Number type: Any
Service rental: From £146/year
Options: Bespoke set up - please contact us

To get started, call us on +44 (0) 333 247 00 00 or click here