It’s that time of year again, when the weather in much of North America turns hostile to people and businesses alike. And while digging out and recovering from a natural disaster can be a true test of survival for any business, what if your business depends on being able to help others precisely when you’re most likely to be digging out, too?
For many insurance agencies and other businesses that need to recover quickly so they can help others, cloud-based business phone systems based on voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) are proving to be part of the answer.
That was the experience of Michael Arkin, a Principal at RIA Group, an insurance company, in 2012, when business VoIP and the cloud proved to have unanticipated benefits.
“We were happy that we switched to VoIP phone service in the spring of 2012, but at the time, we didn’t realize how happy we would be,” says Arkin.
“While we were lucky and had no damage due to Superstorm Sandy, our insurance agency was without power for a week following the storm. Thanks to our VoIP phone service, we were able to retrieve our voicemail messages on our cell phones and communicate with our clients and assist them with their recovery from this devastating storm.”
For many like Arkin, disaster recovery was not top-of-mind when he chose a cloud-based system; he was looking for flexibility, ease of use, and the cost savings that come with a business VoIP system—such as no equipment or maintenance costs, consultant fees, PBX closet space and monthly price breaks due to the economies of scale that the cloud offers.
But, he says, “Putting our business on a new cloud-based business VoIP system proved that its day-to-day and cost advantages are actually outshined by its ability to keep us in contact with our clients to continue to help them through difficult times.”
In the pre-cloud days, a major problem for insurance agents after a disaster was re-establishing business communications, in part because the local service provider or premises-based PBX was likely to be affected by the same disaster as insured clients. Also, temporary relocation was also necessary, and phones, faxes and desktop systems were designed for on-premises use.
Many have regretted not having a resilient hosted VoIP provider, and turned to 8×8 after they saw what a disaster can do to their business. “When cloud-based phone service was new, my insurance agency was damaged by Hurricane Ike, and the day after the storm, customers who called in to set up their claims heard a recording that said ‘This number is no longer in service’ for 45 days after the storm!,” said then-VP at Allstate Insurance Sean O’Donohoe. “If I had had cloud-based service before the storm, everyone could have taken the phones with them, and we could have been in constant contact with our customers!”
In the Cloud Era, faxes can easily be read on cell phones. Business calls can be made to ring on either portable business VoIP phones—where workers just plug their phones in at temporary quarters—or on smartphones. This lets even dispersed workers who might not even be able to reenter the affected area to continue working. And because these workers already take advantage of the ability to essentially “take the office with them wherever they go,” they already know how to get things done when they’re away from the office.
And, as any business owner who has had to dig out from disaster knows, working communications can be a godsend that makes the difference between recovery and ruin. Learn more about how business VoIP and the Cloud can provide your business communications with a little extra insurance.