SMB Crisis Management: Address Smoke Before There's Fire

If I seem tired, it's because my hotel had two false fire alarms last night. All of the hotel guests, including me, had to exit the hotel twice during the middle of the night. Exhausted parents. Tired kids. Burned out bloggers. The situation could have turned ugly. But the hotel addressed potential customer complaints before the sun rose that morning. Here's how.

First, does this blog have any implications for MSPs? I believe so. Many of MSPmentor's readers represent small businesses. And some of those MSPs will stumble badly during a business crisis -- whether it's a customer outage or a third-party cloud service going dark.

How to cope? Learn from the Omni Interlocken Resort near Denver, Colo. A few hundred VARs were at the Omni this week for the Avnet Technology Solutions Partner Summit. Early on July 27, all of us at the Omni awoke to blaring fire alarms and verbal broadcasts urging us to exit the hotel immediately. It was a false alarm. And it happened again an hour later.

Imagine the situation: Several hundred customers suffering from lack of sleep. Bloggers like me, armed with Twitter, ready to vent their frustrations. No doubt, scores of hotel guests were less than pleased. But hotel general manager David Jurcak addressed the situation before it went from bad to worse.

When I awoke the next morning I spotted a letter under my door. In it, Jurak:

  • Apologized for the false alarms;
  • thanked guests for their cooperation;
  • described hotel safety procedures;
  • indicated what triggered the false alarms; and
  • offered all guests complimentary coffee, bottled water and pastries in the hotel lobby.
Instead of facing an angry mob that morning, the Omni hotel won back the confidence of many guests.

I wonder: How many MSPs act as quickly and decisively when they let a customer down?

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