While losing Internet service in our highly-connected society is bad news, there are potentially worse things to happen. A power outage can cripple an entire business. Potentially worse is the loss of phone services. That last happened to a substantial number of Comcast (News - Alert) subscribers, who recently went through a bad patch of Internet outages, and demonstrated for us all how important an omnichannel operation really is.
The outages in question were focused in several areas: the Northeast, much of the Pacific Northwest, portions of Northern California and, in an odd twist, South Florida. Most of the outages here, though, seemed focused on small and medium-sized business (SMB) voice-only service, and a statement from Comcast said that the outages “...should not impact Business Voice Edge or PRI Trunking lines.” Businesses advised area customers that phones weren't working, and Comcast, on Twitter (News - Alert) apologized for “any frustration”, though noted that there was no estimated time of repair.
Further reports out of the situation revealed incremental improvement up until Comcast finally noted that the issue had been fixed at about 4:00 pm Eastern on July 13. This means roughly two calendar days of no phone service, which can be a catastrophe, unless planned for appropriately.
Businesses responded in a rather impressive way. Since the phones were out, businesses instead turned to social media options, with many hitting Twitter or Facebook (News - Alert) to not only tell customers about phone outages, but reiterate that locations were open and accepting customers. Some hit Twitter to offer Facebook links, or others offered a mobile number. Syrtech posted its email address to users. Some, of course, just expressed outrage at Comcast, which is by some reports a fairly common condition.
What this teaches more than anything else is how important an omnichannel—or at least multichannel—customer experience really is. Some may have brushed it off as a buzzword, but offering several contact channels for a business isn't just meeting customer preference. It's also establishing backup operations that can allow a business to carry on even when Comcast has screwed something up yet again and taken the phone or the Internet or whatever with it. The odds of losing phone and Internet all at once are comparatively slim, so having a means to work with both at once helps ensure the flow of business remains operational.
Whether it's a phone outage, an Internet outage, or a power outage, having backup systems in place to address these matters helps ensure that business will keep running, regardless of what the world can throw. When outages happen—and they will—being ready to pick up the slack with a backup plan can mean the difference between a day of at least some work and a day lost altogether.