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Survey Reveals Critical Gap in Business Communication

How much will the next disaster cost your business?

VoiceNation, the premier provider of outsourced voice telephony and disaster recovery solutions, announced today the results of a study that exposed shortfalls in most companies’ disaster recovery planning regarding critical voice communications. The result is that many organizations risk severe financial hardship and business disruption in the face of a disaster, natural or otherwise. Key findings included:

  • 95% of companies agreed that there was a critical need for business continuity planning for voice communications
  • Only 2% confirmed they had such a plan in place
  • 100% stated daily operations would be interrupted if phones were shut down for an extended period

“Businesses spend thousands to back up their critical information, and have disaster recovery plans in place for their data networks,” said Joe Schiavone, Vice President of Sales for VoiceNation. “But the results of this study lay bare the lack of importance many companies place on their voice communications emergency planning in the face of potential terrorism, pandemics, storms and other threats.”

The 2005 telemarketing survey contacted 400 companies across the country, in industries including manufacturing, shipping, electronics, general contracting and real estate. The survey found that while 381 out of the 400 companies agreed that there was a critical need for some sort of emergency plan if they lost their voice communication platform, only 6 out of the 400 businesses actually had some sort of plan in place. The most startling fact is that 100% of the companies surveyed stated that they would have to shut down for the day if their phones were shut down for an extended period.

Joe acknowledges this gap can be attributed primarily to businesses that consider themselves outside of traditional disaster zones, such as hurricane regions and earthquake centers. “If companies are not located on the Gulf Coast, California, or Tornado Alley, they feel that they are safe,” observes Joe. “The problem is that disasters come in many forms, from pandemics and terrorism, to a simple winter storm or power outage. A problem as mundane as a burst water pipe could shut down a phone system for days.”

“We thought we had a communications back up plan in place,” says Vivian Mitchell, network analyst for AIG United Guarantee. But when a snowstorm overwhelmed their voice service provider, United Guarantee’s 800 employees were unable to contact their employer. This survey confirms that many businesses find themselves in similar situations and lack a reliable back up voice communication solution.

Another common misperception is that call forwarding is a suitable response to the issue of disaster management. Many businesses feel that their employees can have all calls forwarded to their evacuation location or the location of another office outside the threatened area. The problem is that for call forwarding to work, a call must first come into the company PBX and then be routed to the new location. If the company network is down at the location where the incoming call is directed, that call is going nowhere. Says Mitchell, “It takes six to seven hours for our alternate location to go live. In that time, this number is the only way employees have to get updates.”

Joe cites the dire consequences of such interruptions in phone service stating: “Imagine customers trying to reach a business, but getting only dead air or the same static message over and over. Imagine orders going unfulfilled and distribution channels that are completely closed off. Imagine employees not knowing where or how to report in during a disaster and having no way of contacting their clients or customers. Now imagine how financially devastating all of this can be to a business, especially a small-to-medium sized organization.”

VoiceNation’s Response to Disaster Recovery and Management

VoiceNation’s response to this issue is to offer a hosted platform for voice communications. VoiceNation isolates their client’s voice systems from service-ending disasters. Even if all landline and cell phone service is interrupted at a client’s location, callers can still get through and access all of the functionality of a normal PBX and voicemail system. A customer can be routed to an employee’s regular voice mailbox, and VoiceNation can get the message to the employee through their email, cell phone, or other communications technology that the employee can still access.

Through VoiceNation, employees can stay connected to their office as long as they have access to some sort of phone or cell phone. Regardless of where they are calling from, by dialing a specified number they can access their entire voice network, as well as any messages telling them where to go and what corporate emergency plan is in place.

“Picture a local school district in an area hit by a snow storm,” suggests Joe. “Normally, there would be generic closing notices announced on the radio, and if they were lucky, one number where both faculty and students could call and check on the school’s status. With a VoiceNation program in place, each department could have their own unique number to call for personalized messages. That way, facility management could report in for snow removal, teachers could come in 2 hours later, and students an hour after that.”

Additional Resources for journalists:

  • Interview experienced VoiceNation business continuity experts for further insights into the critical communication gap faced by most businesses
  • Read the case study on how VoiceNation helped financial giant AIG with their business continuity planning
  • Read detailed “Disaster Recovery” information available at VoiceNation’s site regarding communications support for crisis and natural disaster
  • Ask for VoiceNation’s “Ten Tips for Staying In Touch and Staying In Business”

For more information, contact:
Graham C. Taylor
Media Relations
1.866.766.5050, ext. 150

About VoiceNation:
VoiceNation, America's leader in virtual PBX and voicemail was founded in 2002 by President Jay Reeder and opened their Next Generation call centers in 2009. The company has grown to serve more than 40,000 customers including FEMA, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Dell, AIG and the U.S. Coast Guard. They leverage the very latest in proprietary technology solutions in order to deliver quality call answering services at the lowest cost to their customers. To learn more about VoiceNation and their services, please visit http://www.voicenation.com/.