The Bad weather is coming….can you cope with a surge

So that time of year is upon us where bad weather can impact your business in many ways as outlined below, the cause can be snow, wind, ice and flooding. Firstly, ask yourself if you know the impacts and secondly, can you cope if it happens?

The ways in which you can be impacted are as follows:-

  • Staff being unable to get into the place of work, this could impact ability to service everyone calling in or arriving to collect goods, particularly if the key holder is not able to arrive
  • You may have to shut the office early, from a corporate responsibility so people can get home safely.
  • An increase in the sale of your products such as Wellies, sledges and grit.
  • Where you provide services impacted by the weather you will find that there is an increase in volumes of phone calls, generating longer wait times for customers and thus often unhappy customers when they get through, this could be in call centres for heating issues, councils with flood issues, or an insurance company with increased claims because people cannot get to the airport.

The Impact:-

  • Phones ringing off the hook, staff struggling to cope due to lack of breaks / time off phones.
  • Running out of goods – reputation risk & loss of monies.
  • Ability to support those in need due to both volume requests and staff not around – reputational risk and loss of monies.
  • Not able to achieve contract service and agreement – financial implications of non adherence.

So how do we look to deal with these issues?

It is important within any business that you have at least a one page surge plan to ensure that you know how to approach different scenarios. For example:-

  • Has the business implemented a call cascade program to understand the situation for staff, or advise them of urgent requirements to get into the office and support / work overtime if they can etc.
  • Does someone who can walk to work have a key to access the building (they must be a responsible person), do you have a reasonable proportion of local staff.
  • Do you have other staff who can leave their work to support the surge area, eg can the accounts department help on the shop floor / with phone queries for the couple of days you are impacted.
  • Are there steps in your processes that can be removed during a surge period, that all parties are happy with?
  • Can you quickly change your phone messages to give out key information, for example, you no longer have a stock of children’s wellies or if you are in household insurance, can you ask people looking to make non surge related (eg frozen pipes or flood) claims to call back in a few days, with an empathetic note explaining why.

Finally, if you are in the service industry and you have strong agreements around % of calls answered and time to answer, ensure you have given consideration to a surge situation and include parameters around this, for example, if calls are >30% higher than average due to an incident, service level requirements will be waived.

If you would like any support in working through how you can amend your processes to support a surge period, contact us on