Abandoned: An ice storm in Texas and why call centers need to evolve

Genesis M Longo

By Génesis Longo

0 min read

What NOT to do to your customers during a natural disaster and how a contact center solution can help you to deliver better customer service.

I live in the heart of Houston, Texas. Though my apartment has been one of the fortunate few with power and water, my friends and neighbors have lacked these essential needs for 72 hours. As of this morning, a few have regained power, but water shortages continue. The storm has exposed the brittleness of our power and energy systems, resulting in impassable roads, disruption of vaccine distribution, and the death of 38 people nationwide.

A new perspective on contact centers and customer service.

The situation in Texas this week has given me a new perspective on the importance of agility and infrastructure, not just for our energy and power systems but also for call center technology. I’ve witnessed my friends desperately trying to use their five minutes of power to contact businesses and organizations, with no response, even in what could become life-threatening situations.

This week revealed that Texas’ customer service technology is not resilient or equipped to handle the extreme call volume that comes with severe weather as thousands of people attempt to place calls at the same time. Companies like AT&T have encouraged customers to try texting instead of calling—requiring fewer network resources but businesses and organizations continue to rely on “customer-service calls” without providing other options.

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Real-life challenges and customer service response.

It’s not only power companies with these challenges in handling customer inquiries, but organizations of all types. Below are anecdotes from my friends and me about our experiences: 

  • Pharmacies and groceries:
  • Insurance companies:
  • Hotels:

People have felt alone. Abandoned. Calling out for help with no one to listen. 

When no one answers.

I have no better words to describe what’s happening with call centers and customer support than this email from my friend Jennifer to her apartment complex:

There is a need for a robust, strong contact center solution.

I don’t mean to further sadden people’s days with the examples above, but I hope these anecdotes will remind us all why it is Talkdesk’s mission to improve the customer experience. Here are a few ways Talkdesk technology can mitigate some of the issues outlined above.

Offering support channels beyond phone calls.

Talkdesk CX Cloud is designed to accommodate customer interactions on several different channels, including chat, SMS, email, and social, just to name a few. This gives customers options. If one channel isn’t working, they still have a way to connect to the organization.

Ability to scale quickly to accommodate high call volumes.

Talkdesk is a cloud contact center platform, which means it’s accessible anywhere the internet is available. This gives organizations the flexibility to quickly add more agents in new locations, move agents to new areas, or allow agents to transition to work from home with little disruption to business as usual. Our easy-to-use technology also enables call centers to make changes to their interactive voice response (IVR) script, menu, or options on the fly to provide accurate and time-sensitive information.

‘Always-On’ service powered by AI.

Our virtual agent is designed to deliver the answers customers need whenever they need them, even if live agents aren’t available. By freeing up bandwidth for easily answered questions, live agents can focus on emergency and complex issues. 

More than just improving customer service.

If this past year has taught us anything, it’s the importance of being prepared for anything. Circumstances can change overnight, and companies and organizations need to revamp their technology, not just to customer service and support, but to potentially save lives in times like these.

In closing, if you all know people in Texas, please reach out and make sure they’re okay.


Genesis M Longo

Génesis Longo

Génesis Miranda Longo is the head of industry marketing for retail and consumer goods. A Mexican immigrant and Cornell University grad, Génesis has spent most of her life in food, grocery, and CPG. In recent years, she has worked as a social media creator for well-known brands. Apart from work, Génesis loves cooking spicy food with her husband, increasing diversity in tech and higher education, and spending way too much on her dog, Sunny.