Hurricane Sandy is causing havoc on the East Coast. My prayers go out for all of those who find themselves in harm’s way of the storm. It’s events like Sandy that rally great people together for a cause bigger than just themselves. This is where the unselfish get the spotlight, even if they don’t want it.
Businesses can offer their support as well. This morning I was asked by several people about customer service and catastrophic events. Here are some of my comments.
- First and foremost, this is a great opportunity for companies to show they care more about the customer than they do about the sale. Customers in need are different than customers in want. This is where the words helpful and caring come into play.
- The customer focused companies are the ones that assemble a team of volunteers to support the communities in trouble. You’ll see employees rallying together to raise money and form teams to go out and help those in need. For example, in past natural disasters, Ace Hardware, who is known for being involved in the community, goes out with chain saws to help cut and remove trees that block roads, provide generators to run electric for hospitals and disaster centers, help remove snow – I think you get the idea. The bottom line is that they are there to help.
- Companies must also be careful about being perceived as opportunistic, even if they aren’t. Sure, there are organizations who will take advantage of a bad situation, but fortunately that happens less than those that truly want to help. I just received an email about a hotel chain offering 20% off their rates. Their intention is to offer a lower than usual rate to those in need of a room, however it may be perceived by customers as a company trying to take advantage of people versus trying to help them.
- Customers must also show some consideration. It is not only about businesses doing their part. Companies impacted by the storm are in “catastrophe mode,” which means they may not be able to get to their office or be open for business. Please be patient and tolerant. These organizations aren’t taking a vacation. They are just as frustrated and concerned as you are. Realize they want to take care of you, but nature is getting in the way.
Let’s hope this storm blows over quickly, with minimal damage and loss, other than just a day or two of “business as usual.”
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314) 692-2200 or http://www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to http://www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright ©MMXII, Shep Hyken)