4 Reasons Why Your Business Needs an Answering Service During a Data Breach

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Just this past year, all 50 states have passed laws that require businesses to notify their customers in the event of a data breach, and according to a report from the Identity Theft Resource Center, there have been a total of 864 data breaches from January to August 2018. With over 30 million people affected, you can bet that businesses are getting a lot of phone calls.

While the severity of each data breach will vary, one point remains the same; no one likes receiving  news that the company they’ve been paying for or working with has been hacked. In fact, just last year I received a letter from my doctor’s office regarding a data breach and I reacted how any normal person would – I panicked and immediately called my mom. Then, I called my doctor.

With millions of people affected each year from data breaches, customer service teams across the country are getting slammed with unexpected calls. The same way businesses would have a plan for potential weather disasters, companies should be proactive and plan ahead for the customer service nightmare surrounding potential data breaches. While a breach may never happen, you certainly don’t want to be up the creek without a paddle if they do. So, why are answering services the obvious go to solution? Let us break it down for you.

1. They Can Handle a Ton of Calls

Usually when people hear “data breach”, they panic and assume their identities are already stolen. Then, they contact you for an explanation. While all states require that businesses be transparent with their customers regarding breaches, some states have legislation that requires businesses to provide things like free credit reports or identity protection for a certain period of time after the data breach. For example, my doctor’s office provided free identity protection for a year after their breach. So, you may be receiving calls for that as well.

If you’re using an answering service to field data breach calls, it’s important to equip the service with all of the most up to date information regarding your business and the situation. The last thing you want is for the operators to get hit with hundreds of phone calls with no ability to answer questions. There are a few things you should do to prepare them, like:

  • Try your best to keep them in the loop: Since a data breach could literally happen at any time, it would be hard to give your answering service enough notice for them to staff up accordingly to answer a high volume of calls. However, if you are solely using them as a back up in case a data breach occurs, they can prepare by setting your line distribution to the largest pool of operators available.
  • Set up your call handling in advance: You’ll need to let the answering service know what to say to callers and how to answer questions. If you don’t prepare, then you’ll find yourself scrambling around trying to get things in order when you’re already in the midst of dealing with a big hiccup. However, assuming the data breach hasn’t happened yet, it can be difficult to prepare when you don’t exactly know what to prepare for. For example, you can’t give your answering service information on how the breach happened or what data was leaked if it hasn’t happened yet. So, it’d be best to add standard call handling and FAQs to start, and then fill in the rest of the information as needed.

Pro tip: If your business is required to provide some sort of free credit report or protection to your customers, you can set up specific call handling so the operators can assist callers with signing up for those services. 

2. They Can Save You Money

During a data breach, companies will inevitably lose customers, which can be a big hit especially for small businesses. By spending a little extra money each month to have a back up plan in place, you can have an affordable solution to a potentially major problem.  Not only will answering services help protect your brand and save you from losing a ton of business, they are also a much more cost effective alternative than paying your staff over time to stick around and answer calls.

In addition to being an affordable solution, many answering services don’t require long term contracts. So, if you only need to have your calls covered for a brief period of time, using an answering service that can be activated and deactivated quickly will be the most cost effective and efficient solution. With both per minute and per call pricing options available, you should be able to find a pricing plan that works for you and your business.

3. They Can Save Your Brand

Data breaches are crippling to any business, and can severely damage a company’s street cred. By acting as an extension to your business and providing amazing customer support, a virtual receptionist can help deescalate any situation and keep your callers happy. While your remote agents are busy on the battle field taking calls from unhappy customers, your in-office staff can focus on the bigger picture, like finding immediate resolutions and coming up with a plan for the future. Here are a few tips to make sure your callers get the proper assistance:

  • Make sure your customers know which number to call: If you are outsourcing data breach calls to an answering service, you’ll want to make sure your customers know which number to dial at any given time. If they should be calling one number during the day, and a different number after hours, make sure that is clear to them. Put your number(s) in as many places as possible, like your website and various social platforms. It’s incredibly frustrating for someone who is just trying to get answers to feel like they can’t get in touch with anyone. During a time when your brand is vulnerable, you want to be as transparent and as easy to get in touch with as possible.
  • Take advantage of outbound calling: Check if your service does outbound calling, which could really come in handy during a data breach. Instead of waiting for calls to come to you, placing calls to those affected will help you get ahead of the curve and address issues right away. While your customers probably won’t be happy about the breach, they’ll appreciate your honesty and may even thank you for reaching out to them first.

4. They Are Available 24/7

The greatest comfort in outsourcing is knowing that receptionists will be available 24/7. When you stop answering calls in your own office, the answering service can easily pick up where you left off and make for an easy transition.

No matter what kind of business you run, you should always be prepared for the worst, which means you should always have a live voice on stand by.


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