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Inclement Weather Warnings: Customer Service and Marketing Go Hand in Hand

Planning, training, and mock disaster exercises – Three key components of an effective disaster plan.  Regardless of the size of a RIM provider or company service level, the ability to respond internally to the threat of disaster or a potential disaster is critical. One that is well documented, understood by all team members, and available for spontaneous implementation when needed.

Having barely just recovered from last year’s Hurricane Florence devastation, yet another pounding of the islands and east coast was endured recently with Hurricane Dorian.  Throughout the RIM industry and in far-reaching areas of the world, businesses and personal losses continue to mount from the damages of these disasters.

Customer Service Awareness

Regardless of the natural or man-made disaster, being prepared internally as well as being prepared to provide services to clients and prospective clients is essential.  There is typically a lot of preliminary planning by the Records and Information Management (RIM) team as a record center prepares for inclement weather, but how can you help your clients and prospective clients?

Selling professional service is the trademark of the RIM industry.  Members have continued to provide options for businesses as they relate to the standardized and expected business needs. Be ready to assist when inclement weather warnings are generated/or dangerous man-made situations occur. Step up and develop strategies to keep clients and prospective clients informed of the types of services that you could immediately provide.

Disaster Services – Planning and Response

Most clients and even some prospective clients typically know the off-site services for record and data management you provide.  However, they may not have thought of the type of services you can provide as they plan for inclement weather situations:

  • Pickup/transport/store boxes that are currently stored in office spaces.
  • Pickup/transport/store data tapes, external hard drives, etc.
  • Provide temporary climate-controlled storage for new computer inventories.
  • Provide vault storage for vital business documents – company checks, research, backup computer systems, etc.
  • Palletize and store other types of inventory deemed at risk by an organization based on the current storage situation.
  • Remove client inventory from a mini-storage unit that is prone to flooding.
  • Post-disaster – office/record dry-out.

Brainstorm with a client to determine their associated business risks.  There may be others that develop in a collaborative discussion. The best time to initiate this conversation is long before a threat of disaster occurs, however when a threat of/or real disaster has passed, discussion of a client’s needs at that time may be the most effective timing.

Reinforcing “Top of Mind” Services

The most effective and least invasive way to communicate with clients during the preparation stage is via email alerts well in advance.   These alerts can reinforce your visibility and availability to step in and provide quick turn-key services, thereby reducing client risks and stress related to preparation.  “Top of Mind” of course is reflected as a concept in marketing strategies.  Placing the service provider name and services in front of the client and prospective clients as often as possible, but certainly in times of sincere need.  As a client’s needs arise post-disaster, the RIM company stands out in the mind of the decision-maker as the first company they are reminded to call.

Immediately following, or when the threat of disaster has passed, again send an email or have a team member place a call to the client and ensure that they and their team are safe and not in need of services.  Utilize a script for team members involved in the pre-calling and/or post-disaster follow up calls.  Calls should be upbeat and positive. Ideally, the calls should be placed to reach the same contact receiving the pre-disaster email. Continuity ensures the team member who is the decision-maker is aware of services provided and this strategy again promotes “top of mind” awareness.

While these efforts are soft sale strategies, clients will appreciate the personal consideration during this stressful time if done in an honest and thoughtful manner.

Following a disaster, bring together some key decision-makers from your client base. Strategize on ways that you can assist them with specific, even one-time services.

By:  Gail Bisbee, RN, BSN, PRISM SME