As I write this article on the night of September 9th, I know that many people in the Caribbean are hoping that we will be spared from Tropical Storm Isaac. It is very likely that whilst many are hoping, strategic companies are also actively preparing and planning for any eventuality.
Business Continuity (BC) dictates how the company should recover, what systems should be in place in the event of a disaster , but I want to advance the view that a company may have an excellent BC Plan but if there isn’t a good Customer Experience (CX) strategy at the core of the company, the company may recover, but the customer’s confidence in the organization may not be restored.
For the simple reason, that true Customer Experience provides the emotion that BC does not focus on.
I was fortunate to experience a case of good BC planning in a very customer-centric organization. The BC Plan worked like clockwork from what I could see, there was no panic and as a customer I constantly felt reassured.
A few weeks ago, I stayed at the Hyatt Port of Spain. A few moments after arriving, the building started to shake violently . Intuitively, I knew I couldn’t make it down 12 flights of stairs in time.The next best thing was to hit the floor and get under a sturdy object and so, a few moments later I found myself with my face buried deeply into the plush fibers of the carpet in the Hyatt! To say I was terrified was an understatement!
As the tremor subsided my overactive imagination kicked into full gear. I was a bit petrified to open the door, and rather than open the door, I did the next best thing and called the hotel operator! She answered promptly and in very calm voice. I asked her is the hotel ok? She replied that so far it was but checks of the building were still being conducted and that they are asking all guests to evacuate. She said, “Please take the stairs” at which point I gasped because 12 flights would be a long haul for me!
A few seconds later she called and asked, “Are you ok? Can you make it?” I replied in the affirmative and headed out the door.
As I entered the stairwell, my overactive imagination crept up on me again and I could not help but have flashbacks of all those movies I watched where people were attacked in empty stairwells! Moments later, a gentleman in a suit enters the stairwell and I immediately freeze! He says, “Hi, just keep going all the way down.” My imagination calms down long enough to realize that he is one of the security team at Hyatt and he is just checking on me. I make it down the stairs and I am immediately reassured by another member of the security team. Another message is delivered, “we have evacuated everyone, and we are just checking the building for structural damage” He basically repeats the same message as the Operator.
A few moments later one of the senior managers arrives at the Muster Point and addresses the gathering. He calmly identifies himself and apologizes for the inconvenience. He goes on to reassure every one of the necessity for the evacuation. He provides another update that the engineers are on site, they are checking the building for any structural damages. He informs us that he will be back in another 30 mins for a further update.
One focus: the customer
Less than 10 minutes later we are all ushered back into the building. And after such an experience, where does everyone head to, the bar of course! With such many guests, the team at Hyatt pressed into immediate action as if nothing had ever occurred. If the team at Hyatt was shaken up by the recent events, it certainly did not show, as they moved around with one singular focus and that was to ensure that the guests were taken care of.
In any customer-centric organization, the focus is always on the customer whether there is a crisis or not. The true highlight of the evening was the emphasis on personalised service. I remember confessing to a waitress, Alicia that I still felt a little anxious about the entire event. As if sensing my anxiety, she calmly patted my hand and said you can stay here if you want! Alicia offered me another cup of tea and she then proceeded to distract me with small talk about the deli and other things.
Executing the Business Continuity plan was one thing, evacuating the hotel whilst communicating openly and honestly and doing so with compassion- now that is what Customer Experience is all about! Don’t you agree that a good CX strategy combined with a great BC plan is a marriage made in heaven? It’s a win-win for all!