Be Your Customers’ Port When a Storm like Hurricane Sandy Hits

Emergency PreparednessWhen a devastating storm like Hurricane Sandy hits, open and working companies and governments are ports in the storm for worried customers. Just ask Hancock Bank, based on the Gulf Coast about hour east of New Orleans. When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Hancock branches were up and running the next day.

“People needed to know that there was something normal in a world of chaos,” says K. André Pires, loan operations analyst at Hancock Bank. “Many of the employees were victims themselves, but we still had branches open.”

While Hancock Bank was up and running for its customers, it wasn’t easy. Following the hurricane, Hancock Bank employees worked out of an old house, and the bank rented buses to transport employees from Gulfport, Miss., to Purvis, Miss., every day.

“When Katrina hit on August 29, we were forced to relocate the entire vault and move 126,000 physical files to a remote vault 75 miles away in Purvis,” said Pires.” Because we didn’t have a system up and running, we lost between two and three months of processing time – time that we could have been serving our customers more efficiently.”

Just days prior to the devastating storm, Hancock Bank had selected an enterprise content management  (ECM) solution to reduce the customer service challenges associated with storing paper documents. In the aftermath of the storm, the bank realized just how important the ECM solution would be to its disaster preparedness.

“After the storm, our time frame for implementing a solution across the enterprise went from years to months,” said Pires.

Today, Hancock is ready with documents now stored electronically and accessible even if another disaster ever hit (and hopefully it doesn’t).

As Hurricane Sandy reached landfall last night, keeping family, friends, customers and constituents safe is clearly the first priority. Once those priorities are met, next up for many executives and IT departments is ensuring businesses are open and operating and serving their customers and constituents by providing “business as usual,” which can have a comforting affect in a world of confusion. With strong IT disaster preparedness and business continuity plans, many were ready as the sun rose and people began assessing damage.

However, some were probably not quite as ready as they wanted to be.  Is your company ready? Are your documents accessible?

“The most important goal is to be here for customers,” says Pires. “Anything we can do to make their experience rewarding or effortless is a priority.”

Even if you are not located in a typical “storm zone,” the size and extent of Hurricane Sandy is a stark reminder for every organization to take disaster preparedness seriously.  Being prepared for the worst will better enable your organization to provide consistent service in light of any disruption, such as power outages, snow closures and network failures.

Julie Rees

... read more about: Julie Rees