NASA on Call Center Disaster Planning: Do We Have a Problem, Houston?

Whether a small government institution or a Fortune 500 company, all customer-facing organizations are at risk in the event of a disaster.

For NASA, that situation is even more dire because the "disasters" can happen on and off the Earth’s surface. The company’s call center functions are indeed vulnerable to the same tornadoes, fires, hurricanes and earthquakes that threaten most corporate centers, but the organization also might involve issues involving spacecraft, such as "shuttle explosions."

With that in mind, Jeanne Holm, the chief knowledge architect for NASA and the evangelist for, is very sensitive to concerns about preserving data and communications protocol in the event that the worst happens. And that means not taking any chances with the construction of the call center organization.

It’s really about having a distributed approach. If your call center is located in only one place, if your data is located in only one place, if your knowledge base is only located in one place, then you’re in for trouble," explains Holm, a keynote speaker at the 2011 Government Contact Center Summit, in this exclusive podcast.

Holm believes it is absolutely imperative to use cloud-based resources to keep knowledge available even if the primary customer or citizen support services go down.

"it is important to create a knowledge base that anyone can reach," says Holm. "If your primary call center goes offline…others can have access to information that has been created by your call center folks."

As customers increasingly turn to mobile and social channels for updates, the ability to rapidly access call center data, no matter the state of the physical call center, is increasingly necessary.

But data management is not the only key to disaster preparation—effective scenario planning should be a cornerstone of all customer management strategies.

How does Holm prepare for various disaster scenarios? Which tool that was mocked on NBC’s "The Office" helps get the job done? Check out the latest podcast interview with NASA’s Jeanne Holm.

And if you’re interested in more insights on call center technology, disaster planning and budget-conscious service, you’ll definitely want to check out the Government Contact Center Summit 2011, featuring Jeanne Holm as a speaker.