North American Customer Service Management Association

Support for Contact Center Professionals

Step 5 Special Circumstances – Disaster Recovery & COOP

Today’s consumers expect businesses, especially healthcare, financial services and emergency services like 911, to provide services regardless of the situation. California customers don’t care about a flood in Maryland. Arizona customers may be sorry that there is a blizzard in New York, but that blizzard hardly interrupts their day and they have issues they need resolved regardless.

Any disruption in business is a potential loss of revenue and a potential loss of customer base Disaster Recovery (DR) and Continuity of Operation Plans (COOP) are many times misunderstood. The focus of COOP is the continuation of business services in the event of any type of interruption. DR refers to the company’s business data; specifically, how to store it and recover it in the shortest amount of time possible.

Continuity of Operations (COOP) is a United States federal government initiative, required by U.S. Presidential directive, to ensure that agencies can continue performance of essential functions under a broad range of circumstances. What’s good for the government is good for private business. Today there are many circumstances like bad weather or broken technology to name a few, that bring down contact centers and having a continuity plan is mission critical. It’s a good business practice, yet many organizations overlook it.

The development, training and maintenance of the COOP plan require an actively managed program. The COOP is a document illustrating how the company will carry out its essential functions given some type of disruption.

How much is your company willing to risk? Many companies try to save money on DR plans because it many times requires additional hardware and resources. Until, for whatever reason, disaster hits and critical data like employee time cards are lost and the company is unable to pay employees. Then, companies take DR more seriously. Don’t wait for disaster to strike first. Disaster recovery is a documented plan to determine process and procedure to protect business data and IT infrastructure. It plans for server availability, downtime scenarios, and maintenance.

A disaster recovery test is the examination of each step in a DR plan, as outlined in the organization’s business continuity/disaster recovery plan. Many companies are proud of themselves upon completion of a successful test of their DR/COOP plan. While it is a great accomplishment, this is not the end of the road. Periodic DR testing many times is neglected because of lack of resources and the plan seems “good enough”. A disaster is not the time to see if your plan works. Testing boils down to communication. Data recovery and application recovery beyond that depends on your recovery point and recovery time objectives.

Testing is like a fire drill. Organizations today regularly have fire drills and emergency communication tests with employees. A DR test should also be completed on a regular basis and be incorporated into planned maintenance and staff training. The test results are the only way to know if your plan works, what changes are recommended and what is to be left alone. The testing phase is as critical as the plan itself. Don’t skip it!


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Take the Next Step!

Disaster Recovery and Continuity of Operation Plans are like any insurance policy. You don’t see the benefits until you use the policy. The goal is to have a DR and COOP plan to avoid every having to use them. Being prepared for the worst provides customers and management a sense of security; minimizing risk of delays, lost customer and employee information, reducing potential legal liabilities, minimize decision-making during a disaster while guaranteeing the reliability of standby systems. Today the risk of the inevitable is greater than ever. Prepare ahead; having a plan ready to be executed will minimize the loss.

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The North American Customer Service Management Association (NACSMA) assists Service Center professionals with improving the delivery of Customer Care to their clients by providing a collaborative networking approach to operational issues.