When CX Becomes a Disaster, Naturally

Imagine yourself sitting in your relative’s living room waiting out the hurricane that is passing through. The power is out. Your car is stored at a nearby parking garage on a higher floor after a friend shuttled you back to your building, so you have no transportation (though, you wouldn’t want to be driving in the storm anyway). You are staring out the window watching the winds pick up and hoping everyone is staying safe. You check your phone constantly looking for messages from friends and family who are frequently checking-in. You’ve done all you can to prepare – stocked up on water, batteries, flashlights, etc.

The storm passes. “Safe” notifications stir across Facebook and you check status updates for images of the damage. It’s morning now and you are still without power.  Your phone dings and what pops up is an app notification from your favorite coffee shop alerting you the new pumpkin-flavored coffee drink is out and that tomorrow is double points day. Coffee sounds good. Really good. Especially when the power is out and you can’t make any of your own.

Just one problem – nothing is open. A hurricane just blew through.

No one wants to alienate their customers, especially during a known and trying disaster. But what can be done to protect your customers from a similar situation? It boils down to touchpoints.

Marketing Outreach

If a natural disaster has been reported or warning has been issued that it’s likely to occur, it would be wise to disable any electronic notifications to customers in the designated areas. For example, if a favorite coffee shop knows a customer’s zip code and that zip code is in the affected area, the coffee shop can exclude that customer from receiving notifications about current promotions.

If customer information is not tracked at that level, then perhaps the store that customer has marked as his or her favorite can be used to identify the home area. Any available information should be used to ensure that customers don’t receive notifications for products or services that they are not immediately relevant to their situation.

Make an effort to change your notifications based off of customer location

Feedback Requests

Feedback can be a bit more tricky as there could be multiple methodologies in play. We have clients, for example, that utilize an IVR (interactive voice response) methodology for their customer experience measurement systems. During Hurricane Harvey, we excluded any customers whose home address state was labeled as Texas from being called shortly before, during, and after the storm. Who wants to receive a phone call asking for feedback while a hurricane is blowing through? No one. That’s who.

A good market research provider will be able to provide best practices on how to handle these types of situations. If collecting feedback is suspended for a period during the disaster, scores will be affected. If bonuses are tied to those scores, employees could feel that they are at an unfair advantage because the disaster happened and their scores suffered. Special provisions should be made to offset this that take into account performance before the disaster and historical trends. The experience shouldn’t have to be a disaster for employees either.

Written by Phoenix MI’s Sarah E. Morrow
Dedicated Researcher | CX Professional | Florida Resident

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