None of us likes to admit it, but “stuff” really does happen. Whether it’s through our own doing, the customer’s, or some ridiculous unforeseen circumstance eventually you’ll be hit with a fire alarm and need to jump into action or deal with some traumatic consequences. To assure your organization is ready to address any shocks that will cause customer’s (and you) pain, you need to build out your own emergency preparedness kit. Doing this successfully means documenting potential scenarios, building out response plans, and creating your response team. Following these simple steps will get you on your way:
Gather feedback from staff as to what should count as a “red alert”. Don’t overthink this one. Simply shoot a survey out to the teams or host a hackathon where you ask what customer-impacting scenarios would require all hands on deck. Capture them in a manner that describes what it is and why it’s impactful to customers. Provide an opportunity for a broad scope of the organization to participate since teams not directly engaging with customers may bring to light unexpected challenges for you to consider (ex: Finance with billing issues, Engineering with system structural issues, IT for cybercrime, etc.). Remember to incorporate customer bug notifications or known technical debt into your list.
Summarize your “red alert” list and build a response plan. Review your list, consolidate duplicate entries, ensure scenarios are captured in an understandable manner and create a review board to stress test that these are indeed all-hands situations. Make sure it’s all captured in a CSV or GoogleSheet file for ease of use. Scan through your immediate response plan and ask your review board which individuals or teams need to weigh in on the playbooks. Engage those folks directly and modify your strategy accordingly.
Assign people, roles, responsibilities, and SLAs to your quick reactionary force. Typically you’ll want the account owner, their manager, subject matter experts in the source area of the problem, and an executive sponsor on the team. The account owner will provide the customer POV and core details of the matter at hand. Their manager is there for validation of CSM’s work, additional source context, and ensuring the matter is resolved. The subject matter experts are there to solve the problem and interact with the customer directly if needed. The executive is there to make sure all barriers are removed and resources are provided to the QRF team, and the customer knows how seriously the company is taking the matter. The SLAs are for internal use to help balance the business’s ability to react appropriately with the customer’s desire for expedited resolution.
Once compiled, review with the management team, circulate internally and store it in a secure public drive. Having a plan is better than having no plan at all. Giving yourself the opportunity to assess the high-risk threats to your customers not only gives you a great opportunity to build out appropriate responses, it also gives you an optimal opportunity to address the root causes of the issue before they ever hit your customers.