Your phones are down. Phone outages occur in nearly every small business, and here are 4 ways you can reduce the likelihood or impact of an outage.
1) First, expect to have issues with your primary carrier. For decades, phone technology has enabled a single pair of copper wires to carry a huge amount of your office phone calls, maybe all of them. How old is that copper wire? Probably as old as your office building. How easy it it for someone to bump that pair of wires if they’re in the basement of your building? Very easy.
What’s the fix? Have more than one method of placing and receiving calls. Multiple connections to your carriers reduces the likelihood that a single outage will “take down” your phone system.
2) Have a contingency plan. Your phone carrier may have an outage but may still be able to forward your calls to an alternate number. What’s the fix? Have a preset arrangement with your provider to re-route calls or forward them to a preset number of your choosing (most small businesses use the mobile number of their office manager or sales manager)
3) Hardware redundancy. If you have a phone system in your office with a hard disk on it, the disk could fail (after all, it’s moving at 7200 revolutions per minute 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no vacations). What’s the fix? A few options: a) get a “cold spare”, which is a duplicate chassis with all the same equipment, much like a spare tire on your car in case a tire goes out. Costs a bit more, but then you can simply plug in the spare while you get the main unit repaired. b) Ask your telecom vendor to make a clone of your hard drive. If the main drive fails, a drive transplant will usually get you back up and running, though not as quickly as a cold spare. c) have all the original media on hand in case you have to reinstall the software on your system. This is the lowest cost option but takes a very long time to complete.
4) Have a separate location as “failover” – what if your office goes offline due to a power issue or natural disaster?
What’s the fix? If your company has multiple locations, you could have your lines fail “over” to an alternate office, or to a cloud-based provider. This would make you appear available to the outside world even though you might be denied physical access to your current office.
If you’re thinking “why don’t I just get a cloud-based provider so I don’t have to deal with this?” think again: if you have a cloud connection and they go offline, you have no recourse. Having multiple options through controlling your own hardware and carrier options gives you considerable flexibility and control over the myriad failures that can impact a small business. Don’t dread a phone outage, instead prepare for one so you have a plan when it occurs.