Importance of the Contact Center on Full Display for Hurricane Relief


The role of the contact center has never been more critical to the overall success of your business strategy than it is today. But in light of the recent hurricanes that have devastated Texas, Florida and the Caribbean, contact centers have taken on a new importance by demonstrating the value that they can have for communities in times of need.

With families displaced, homes destroyed and sadly, lives lost,  the disruption of communications has been offset by some contact centers stepping up to become hubs of information. The people affected by these events have been able to locate emergency supplies, find their loved ones, and in some cases, talk to experienced, calm voices to help them through the traumatic experience.

Though disasters like hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria can be devastating, the weeks and months that follow will give us an opportunity to see the resilience and courage of our communities as they seek to respond and rebuild.

We’d like to take a moment to highlight a few contact center operations that have shown a commitment to helping out those impacted by these recent calamities.

Florida International University Call Center responds to students and South Florida community  

While a majority of employees and students remain off-campus at Florida International University, Director of Admissions Jody Glassman has put together a 7-member team to occupy its on-premise contact center to take questions from students, parents and the greater South Florida community in the days following Hurricane Irma.

“Talking with people directly can reassure them in a way that FAQs on a web site cannot. I think it makes people feel good to know that we’re right there with them,” Glassman stated. “I haven’t had electricity for five days either, so when somebody says we haven’t had power, we are able to say, ‘You know, this Starbucks is open,’ or, ‘This gas station is open.’ We’re able to offer that experience because we’re in there with them.”

The State of Texas expands contact center presence in the wake of Harvey

In Texas, the state government ramped up their contact center presence to meet the influx of requests coming from beleaguered residents. CSRA was awarded a $95 million FEMA grant which in part allows CSRA’s Integrated Technology Center in Bossier City to implement call center support. This will include 1,500 temporary agents. Meanwhile, the Small Business Association put its surge staff into place, injecting emergency agents into its Texas operations that normally employ about 1,000.

Verizon contact center agents hold hurricane relief telethon

On September 12, volunteers from Verizon call centers from around the country volunteered their time to take donor calls during the “Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief” telethon. These volunteers were working across 18 call centers, raising money going directly to the families and communities in need in Florida and Texas. In addition to the funds raised that night, Verizon also chipped in with a $2.5 million contribution.

Contact centers critical in Puerto Rico following power outages

When Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, it completely destroyed the island’s electric grid, making it nearly impossible for individuals to communicate across the territory or for that matter, to parties outside the island. Several organizations have started to leverage the surviving contact center infrastructure to help people find their loved ones and facilitate relief efforts. The Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Administration specifically, has established websites, hotlines and mobile apps to run through their contact center to streamline the campaign.

When it comes to the role of the contact center, we know that it’s all about creating a stellar customer experience. But in times of crisis, it is heartwarming to see organizations put business aside and tend to the people around them. The contact center has demonstrated its value to the community by once again adapting to meet the needs of those they serve.

Note: While Aspect is a contact center solution provider, this post is meant to acknowledge the contact centers that have gone above and beyond the scope of their operations during times of crisis. Only one of the organizations mentioned above is an Aspect customer.