I was shopping in Sainsbury’s the other day looking for some clothes for Ripley (you forget how quick they grow so this is a common trip) and I’d started wandering down the stationery aisle (hands up, my name is Emma and I’m a stationery addict who thinks you can NEVER have too many notebooks)!
Everything was perfect in my little world when all of a sudden, an alarm started sounding saying “this is a colleague alert, please wait for further instructions” (or words to that effect).
It was obvious that this was an alarm going off and wasn’t a test, the store was packed with customers but what I thought was really worrying, and why I wouldn’t trust Sainsbury’s with my life, was how the staff around me handled the situation.
There were quite a few shoppers by me and I counted 4 staff members walk past but not one of them made any comment, even though the alarm was still sounding – they didn’t stop whatever job they were doing.
This might not sound like a big deal but I would have expected these staff to say “nothing to worry about, probably a false alarm or a fire drill” or anything else to reassure shoppers. It wasn’t until an announcement finally came over the speakers that it was a false alarm.
The scary thing about this situation is what if it HAD been a real emergency and not the false alarm? The staff weren’t even beginning emergency procedures and didn’t seem interested in doing anything which didn’t really instill confidence!
Once I’d finished my shopping (new coat and notebook in hand), I had to go to the top floor and as I had Ripley in her pushchair (and I was on my own), I needed to use the lift but it was in lockdown because of the fire alarm. I had to go to the customer service desk to ask for a member of staff to reset the lift so it could be used again. But this should have happened automatically as systems should have been in place – you shouldn’t have to rely on your customers to tell you about these problems!
So what can you learn as a result of this interesting experience?
Make sure that staff are fully trained
You might not have customers visit you so an evacuation isn’t necessary but think about visitors to your website- what if it wasn’t working or you’d been hacked, how would you and your staff deal with it?
What back up systems do you need in place?
What can you do that will make the transition period easy for your customers? Think about sending out a message on social media, send email, redirect customers to a different website.
How can you get back up and running quickly?
Create a full disaster recovery plan and work out absolutely everything that could potentially go wrong (equipment failure, sickness etc) and then create a solution for how you’d handle it. This will save you so much time and stress levels not wondering what to do if this shit hit the fan!
By being prepared and having your team fully trained, you will instill confidence with your customers which is what you want!