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November 24, 2011


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Riots in the UK: ADT proves worth of detailed business continuity planning

The organisation needed to implement contingency plans in order to maintain a continuous level of service for its thousands of customers.

ADT’s redundant IT infrastructure with no single point of failure meant critical systems could be routed to its Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) in Salford

  • customer-facing staff were evacuated to the ARC, while all Call Centre functions were also re-routed to the ARC
  • non-customer facing staff were sent home, away from danger, where they could work remotely
  • constant communication between ADT staff and local police forces meant up-to-date, tailored advice was delivered to customers with alarm difficulties to ensure their safety during any turbulent events
  • excellent customer service was maintained, with response to call volumes 10% up on forecast (the majority of calls were answered within 60 seconds, and a significant proportion in under 30 seconds)

Acts of opportunistic crime

Cast your mind back to August 2011. It was a month that witnessed the sudden onset of widespread riots across the UK which resulted in the destruction of retail outlets and property and the looting of goods.

The levels of anarchical behaviour heavily restricted resources able to be distributed by local emergency services to problematic areas, one of which was Manchester.

In the heart of Manchester city centre’s shopping district sits ADT’s state-of-the-art Customer Service Centre (CSC) which housing 400 members of staff.

On 9 August, local police forces suspected that Manchester was to become a key target for large groups of rioters and this notion was reinforced by communications on networking sites.

Coupling this with the severe acts of criminality witnessed the previous evening in London, the country was prepared for serious disruptions in other major cities.

Unfortunately, this came to fruition around mid-afternoon in Manchester. Rioters immediately targeted the city’s larger structures and popular retailers, with the building housing ADT’s CSC being subjected to opportunistic vandalism on the lower floors.

These events fuelled ADT’s decision to deploy its recovery actions which had been rigorously designed as a continuity blueprint to ensure customers still received 24/7 service and support from the primary city centre location in the event of a disaster.

This required senior staff members to execute an extensive operational change by moving all business processes to ADT’s Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), which is located in Salford outside of Manchester city centre.

Invoking business continuity planning measures

ADT has a fully redundant IT infrastructure in place to ensure there’s no single point of failure of our systems. This allows the company’s critical systems to remain online and connected while threats of network downtime subside.

This is achieved by seamlessly switching the location of system functionality to the ARC in Salford. By successfully pre-empting disruption to the business, ADT was able to implement a full-scale recovery plan.

Predefined actions were carried out to ensure a seamless transition to the ARC with ADT prioritising the safety of its employees throughout the evacuation at the primary site in Manchester.

Customer-facing members of staff were safely driven from their base in the city centre and transferred to Salford. Working in tandem with this transfer was the successful re-routing of Call Centre functions to the ARC, with employees instructed to focus purely on monitoring received alarm signals on arrival.

Non-customer facing staff were sent home at 3.30 pm, allowing them the opportunity to leave the city centre while public transport remained in operation.

ADT’s home working capabilities were also activated, allowing staff to receive calls and provide assistance while working remotely, avoiding the need to travel through areas experiencing disturbance.

In terms of monitoring procedures, ADT routed the majority of break-fix (repair) calls through its RESOLVE team members who provide remote diagnostics and resolution.

They worked with customers, regardless of contract type, aiming to fix issues over the phone without the need to send engineers to a customer’s premises once disruptions had begun.

ADT’s long-standing relationships with emergency services across the UK ensured firm lines of communication remained in play between ADT staff members and local forces. This guaranteed the delivery of up-to-date tailored advice to customers experiencing problems near rioting ‘hot spots’.

Protecting customers during a time of criminal uncertainty

As a result of the smooth implementation of a clear business continuity plan, ADT continued to deliver excellent service to its customers by maintaining firm alarm handling and answering call volumes at a significant rate (10% up on forecast).

Staff remained driven to ensure customers received the best service levels despite the clear upheaval and uncertainty in Manchester city centre.

The previous training and ‘dry runs’ of the business continuity plans proved successful as staff responded quickly and worked together to minimise disruption, in turn guaranteeing operations continued at a highly productive rate once in the ARC.

Impressively, under demanding circumstances the majority of alarms were handled within 60 seconds, with 96% of fire, 89% of personal attack and 91% of intruder alarms dealt with inside 30 seconds.

“You can have as much state-of-the-art technology in place as you like, but without the right people and team support you cannot implement the relevant plans necessary to deliver the highest standard of service to thousands of customers,” explained Dominic White, head of the Customer Service Centre in Manchester.

“I’m extremely proud of how our staff members worked together and continued to stick to their customer-focused business goal in the face of adversity. The success of this operation comes down to the clear diligence shown by our employees who were driven to help protect struggling customers during a troubled night of criminality.”

Despite the unrest and the need to relocate operations, customer service was not impacted and monitoring and response to customer alarms continued without interruption.

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