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Business continuity

Best practices for businesses across crisis comms, elastic infrastructure, and business continuity in the age of COVID-19

  • gweinstein
    Glenn Weinstein, Chief Customer Officer at Twilio
  • Mar 16, 2020

Twilio's Chief Customer Officer Glenn Weinstein shares his thoughts and best practices for business continuity, communication, and customer engagement during the age of COVID-19 and beyond.

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When COVID-19 hit the world with full force in early March, no one could predict just how it would change the world for good. And yet, nearly 9 months later, society no longer sees COVID-19 as a temporary disruption to business as usual, but instead a permanent shift toward a more digital, agile workforce even once the pandemic has ended.  

In short, we’re entering 2021 with a resilience that only comes from living and working through one of the greatest challenges the global modern workforce has ever known. And we’re a stronger, more adaptable, and modernized society because of it.

We’ve seen firsthand how our customers all over the world have used the Twilio platform to build meaningful, deep relationships with their customers, guests, and users before and during the pandemic. At the core of all those relationships, is the communication that transcends medium. And in observing this communication thrive this year, we’ve seen some powerful best practices emerge.

Below you’ll find insight on crisis communications, elastic communications, and business continuity, garnered from our own customers as well as from within Twilio itself, as we continue to support our customers and our own team. We will continue to update this post as we develop additional resources, so bookmark it and check back in in the coming months ahead.

If you’d like more guidance, we’re here to help. Reach out to us.

Crisis communication best practices we’ve learned this year

Effective crisis communications, both within an organization as well as between a company and its customers, requires a delicate balance between providing relevant information in a timely manner without contributing to panic or already heightened states of stress.

  1. Manage expectations through ongoing, regular communication—via regular emails at a predictable cadence, virtual office hours, and resource hotlines, among other strategies—that is accessible and takes things like time zones and the availability of technology into consideration. 
  2. Take the time to absorb and digest new information before disseminating it more broadly. The 24/7 news cycle can make everything feel like an urgent emergency; pause to collect your thoughts and reflect before blasting an entire employee base or customer group with the latest update.
  3. Choose the right channel and method of delivery for each piece of communication. Texts are intrusive and personal, and often inappropriate for routine updates, for example. 

Harvard Business Review compiled an excellent resource on crisis communications all business leaders should read.

The importance of elastic comms and infrastructure scaling in times of crisis

This year has made countless businesses rethink their day to day operations in an increasingly fluid, agile manner. 

One way in which businesses have found success is using an elastic, flexible communications structure that can adapt and scale rapidly. The key elements of elasticity, flexibility, and scalability of your communications and customer engagement infrastructure determine how effectively your organization is able to respond in crisis.

Such a platform enables companies to better engage with their customers in the way their customers want and expect in today’s cloud-based world, and times of crisis are no exception—in fact, at times like these, businesses must be even more focused on enabling solutions that scale and flex as needs evolve.

Communications platforms connect calls, texts, and other forms of communication using geographically-distributed data centers around the world, offering the scale and reliability that make it possible for your business to expand without worrying if the contact center can keep up.

Here are key considerations for building a communications platform to weather every possible storm—COVID-19 and beyond.

  1. Ensure content accuracy. Misinformation breeds distrust; our message content must be rendered and delivered correctly around the world.
  2. Know your limits. Make sure you have a way to reliably reach all your customers globally.
  3. Plan to rely on multiple global carrier networks, to ensure your service remains reliable. Ideally, the communications platform has provisions for automated failover, a full-time carrier ops team, real-time routing, and data centers located around the world. 
  4. Protect sensitive information at all times in accordance with all applicable regulations, including HIPAA. Third-party providers should be ISO 27000-certified (this is a family of information security standards published by the International Organization for Standardization).

Read more on Twilio Learn.

Why business continuity is still priority No. 1 during the pandemic

Continuing to have a plan in place to ensure business can move forward, despite the real and often scary disruptions we are facing every day, has proven to be the difference between surviving—even thriving—in a time of crisis versus crumbling.

At Twilio, thousands of organizations of all sizes across the world rely on our cloud communications platform to exchange millions of calls, messages, video chats, conferences, and so much more every single day. 

In today’s climate, ensuring we are able to continue to support those customers is critical; we support organizations delivering lifesaving care, ensure telehealth providers can connect patients and doctors, and make sure all our customers in various industries feel supported and connected while we wait for a COVID-19 cure.

Our business continuity plan is our blueprint for it all, which is why we’re sharing it with you.

An effective business continuity program is rooted in a holistic approach to identifying and addressing risk across all areas of our business and the external factors that support it. It takes more than a secure platform and high-availability architecture to maintain the standards our customers expect—we have developed strategies for risk mitigation, response, and recovery for not just the Twilio platform, but our partners, systems, employees, and beyond. 

Read more about our plan, and see it for yourself here.

We know times continue to be uncertain. But at Twilio, we’re certain that our clients and their customers will get through this to a more agile, resilient, and better prepared future. 

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If you’re ready to build a better customer engagement experience, we can’t wait to hear about it.

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Glenn Weinstein, Chief Customer Officer at Twilio

Glenn is the Chief Customer Officer at Twilio. He co-founded Appirio, one of the world's leading Salesforce and cloud computing consultancies, serving as CTO and CIO. Previously, he served as VP of global customer support for two public enterprise software companies.