In Light of Yesterday Skype Fail – Why Business Communication Should Be Taken Serious?

posted by Archie @ 19:46 PM
June 8, 2011

skype down yesterdayYesterday was another day the unavailability of Skype brought great disservice. Although this fail was not global, it did affect many users including those who run business over Internet or use the Web as a powerful secondary channel with Skype serving for business communication. Support calls and chat sessions, on-line meetings – all types of conversations, run over Skype dropped dead having if not paralyzed then significantly disrupted the activity of hosting providers, e-shops, on-line consulting agencies and many more businesses. It’s not know for sure why this outage took place, but that is not something we are going to discuss today.

Today we will tell you how to take serious preventive measures to avoid such issues in future. In fact it is not recommended to use Skype or similar services as a primary channel for business communication, no matter if this communication is within the organization or between the company personnel and their customers, but if you do, you should definitely back them up.

Backing up Communication Channel Within the Organization

To sound the most helpful and to cover as many aspects as possible we decided to split our tips into ones for issues with communication within the company and into those that affect communication between staff and customers. Let us start from company internal issues since those are kind of easier to be resolved, at least in terms of organization of the backup channel, since the ways to do that may be quite difficult.

Instant Messengers

Facebook chat and Google Talk have pushed traditional instant messengers out, but the protocols are still working and worth being used. Yes sir, dig out your good old AIM or ICQ accounts’ credentials, fire up your clients and bring the conversation there. An interesting thing about those is that you can easily move all your business contacts to a separate list that is going to make the communication easier. Moreover, some of the latest ICQ clients support audio and video conversations, too.

Local Chat Platform

If you limit communication within your company to instant messaging on the one hand and want to make it secure on the other hand, there’s nothing better than setup a Jabber (XMPP protocol based) server and get some Jabber-complient client to keep all your internal business discussions within it. A well-organized server will let you communicate with your partners and gather them in conference rooms world wide, regardless of their location. And if some serious security is required, you may limit your Jabber server accessibility so that your partners could connect to it over VPN.

Local VoIP Platform

If live audio conversations are vital, you can either setup a server that would support voice over IP technology or signup for some VoIP service. Both variants imply the possibility to make calls over Internet using special software installed on local machines that are connected with the VoIP server. Organizing such a channel for communication within the organization is going to be rather cheap since you and your partners will only use extensions, which does not expect any cell or land phone calls being made. Other solutions will require more expenses which nevertheless stay worthwhile.

Backing up Communication Channel Between Personnel and Customers

Instant Messengers

Those can be used as a backup solution for communications between staff and your customers, too. There are, however, aspects that should be kept in mind while moving your support chat to AIM or any other service. First things first, using public messengers for communication with your customers does not look quite professional – so while switching to those channels, even temporarily you need to create a special user login, which name would somehow be connected with your company and your business. Another thing to check is your customers’ tastes – some may use MSN, some prefer AOL, some chat via ICQ. Finally, you will need to be able to update your clients on that rather quickly – using your corporate blog, forum, Twitter account or Facebook or even main website page will be fine to provide those backup account names.

On-site chat system

This is something that should actually be a primary channel and of course you will be hardly able to install it as a backup channel once your experience a crash, but if you have a chat system but prefer using Skype instead, it is high time to refer your clients there. It may also be worthwhile to reconsider the system in use so that it wouldn’t make you to switch to Skype at least for instant messaging – currently many chat systems have convenient interface and support numerous features – chat-to-email delivery, operator or service rating and many more.

VoIP Platform

Unlike Jabber that is mostly used only locally, VoIP platform can be used as a communication channel for both staff and customers. This channel however, will require more expenses than an “internal” one since you will need to have a land line phone number bound to your VoIP server. Thus, accepting call withing roaming and from cell-phones may affect your balance. On the other hand, if it is a backup solution and the issue is not to last long – you can sacrifice your funds for maximum uptime of your service.

As far as you can see, there are many other ways to build a reliable on-line communication channel for your business. Some of them may not be free but the money you will spend on those will provide your with great reliability and good quality of connectivity. In this article we do not deface Skype, of course – we just issue a friendly reminder for everyone, who use public communication services for business activity since those may fail and damage your business easily.