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Your Business in a Disaster

You find out who you really are when times get tough.  The same can be said of companies.  As Hurricane Sandy batters the East Coast, many companies have been forced to close their doors and wait out the storm.  However, some companies are not in a position to simply hunker down and wait for the rain to go away.  Companies that offer necessary services, such as in-home care or emergency services may be needed more than ever in a disaster.  If your customer service initiatives aren’t up to par, you might be lucky if the worst you receive is bad press.

Your customer service prerogatives shift during a disaster if your company offers essential services.  You may need to ramp up the number of employees on staff or increase hours.  This is where employee engagement comes into play.

You will undoubtedly receive customer service requests that cannot be met because of the situation at hand.  It’s important that you broadcast on your website, social media sites, and any other channels that you maintain that your customer services efforts will be thin, which will help set reasonable expectations.  When a customer service request does arrive, your employees’ first task should be reassuring the customer that their issue will be resolved as soon as possible – but ASAP will be longer than normal.  A little reassurance can go a long way in times of uncertainty.  However, this also means your employees may take additional heat from stressed customers.  Ensure that they’re prepared for it and show that you understand the anxiety it can cause.  After the crisis has diminished, reward your employees with a catered lunch, happy hour, or some other reward that fits your culture.

Of course, your employees may be personally affected by the disaster as well.  It’s important to realize that some of your employees will have a lot on their minds, even if they are able to come into work.  Simple things, such as providing lunches to those that can come in, will go a long way toward keeping your employees’ nerves as calm as they can be.  Larger moves, such as paying full wages for any employees that are forced to miss work, will play a tremendous role in keeping loyalty high.

Just as you and your employees are individual members of the community, so is your business.  Your loyalty and dedication to providing services or products that people depend upon – while outside forces make it as difficult as possible to do so – will be rewarded once the dust settles.  If you have conducted customer service or employee surveys in the past, you may be surprised at the sudden increase in employee engagement and customer loyalty the next time you resurvey to check the progress of your improvement initiatives. Contact us today if we can assist you in any way to make sure that your business remains strong in the midst of a disaster.

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