Business Continuity, Critical Communications

Business Continuity Communications: Expectations vs. Reality

By Shannon Gallo

Nobody can predict the future. It’s only a matter of time before some unforeseen incident impacts your business, even if you’re a pro at planning ahead. So what can you do now?

Although you can’t prevent crises from occurring, you can absolutely take a proactive stance by developing a strategy that outlines how you’ll respond. As Miguel de Cervantes once wrote, “To be prepared is half the victory.” To this end, business continuity strategy plays an incredibly important role in the success of any organization. But it isn’t just about moving to the cloud and giving your employees mobile devices. Successful business continuity programs are built on a foundation of effective communications.

With so many moving parts and stakeholders involved in the process, it’s not uncommon for different messages to go out across the organization. To keep everyone on the same page, avoid confusion and ensure you can faithfully execute your business continuity program, you need to be able to communicate clearly and concisely during any scenario.

Developing a solid strategy starts with understanding the common misconceptions about business continuity communications so you can increase the chances your company stays productive when disaster strikes.

Expectation No. 1: Everyone Already Knows What To Do During a Critical Event.

In an ideal world, all of your employees would know exactly what to do to maintain operations during a crisis. But even if you’ve put together a robust program, practiced it and publicized it—and your employees know exactly where to reference it—there are bound to be at least a few people who are unsure of the proper course of action. (That’s assuming the organization has a business continuity program in the first place; one recent report found that prior to the pandemic, 69 percent of companies did not.) 

Given this reality, it’s critical that your organization not only puts together a strong business continuity program, but also communicates it effectively to all stakeholders. Because nobody knows when exactly an incident will occur (e.g., the day after your annual business continuity training or 20 weeks later), you need a critical communications product (often referred to as a mass notification system or MNS) that enables you to rapidly transmit information to the people who need it, at scale. That way, it doesn’t matter whether they know what’s expected of them or not. You’ll be able to remind them when the situation calls for it.

Expectation No. 2: You Only Need To Use One Method of Communication During Crises.

Everyone has their preferred mediums of communication. Some people like emails, others prefer phone calls and still others like texting or messaging. Therefore, it’s important to have a central messaging system for emergencies so everyone knows where to look for the information they need. In an age when downtime can cost almost $85,000 an hour, every minute counts™.

Given these differing communications preferences, you need to look for a solution that’s versatile by design and supports email, text, push notifications, voicemail and desktop alerts. That way, no matter how your team works or where they happen to be, they’ll be kept in the loop during a crisis.

Expectation No. 3: You Only Need to Worry About Communicating with Your Customers.

Sometimes businesses make the mistake of putting their customers first, to the point that they leave important stakeholders—such as employees, business partners and the community—out of the equation when communicating during crisis situations.

When the unplanned happens, you absolutely need to make sure your customers stay informed. But the other stakeholders impacted by the crisis are just as important, and communications need to be prioritized accordingly. The faster you get your team and your partners back on track, the sooner they’ll be able to deliver the caliber of service your customers have come to expect.

Expectation No. 4: You Can Use Your Existing Communications Systems During a Crisis.

You might think that your existing communications infrastructure is strong enough to support your communications needs during natural disasters and other critical events. But if you’re relying on internal, self-hosted company email and your server gets knocked offline, you won’t be able to push alerts out to stakeholders with any sense of urgency.

For the best results, use a product that’s designed specifically for business communications. By doing so, not only will you ensure that all of your employees know where to look for information and instructions, but you’ll also have the peace of mind that comes with knowing your critical communications system is reliable under any circumstances.

Ready to Build a Better Business Continuity Strategy?

To protect your business against whatever obstacles come your way, you need a robust business continuity strategy—there’s no way around it. In addition to outlining what your business will do to keep operations up and running, you also need to figure out what you can do to ensure that you’re able to communicate effectively with all stakeholders, without any hassle.

This is why no business continuity program is complete if it isn’t built on a foundation of effective critical communications. With such a foundation, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to communicate efficiently with all stakeholders.

By contrast, failure to prioritize communications can have a devastating impact on the success of your business continuity program. Don’t wait and find this out after it’s too late.

To learn more about the important role of critical communications in business continuity strategy, read the ebook.