Fire at Sea

May 27th 2013 the Royal Caribbean Cruise ship “Grandeur of the Seas” catches fire in route to the Bahamas. If I were to ask you what are the worst things that can happen on a ship that is out to sea, fire would up there with icebergs and giant squids.
Days later I’m watching the news and they are interviewing passengers who recently disembarked. One man said “The crew informed us every step of the way; they generated a lot of good will”; another woman said “They kept us updated, really awesome!”. WHAT? “Really awesome” is what you say after leaving a ship that caught fire. Why?
The answer is communication. These customers were delighted even though their ship was on fire and their vacation was cut short. The words used were “updated” and “informed”. Communication flow is as important as material flow. Heck, maybe more so. You can burn a ship and still keep customers happy.
Do you recall a time when you were a customer and got frustrated or angry? What if at that moment the company gave you honest, relevant and timely information? You would probably feel respected and better to some degree.
Many cities (to include Las Vegas) have adapted “improved communications” to traffic on the highways; currently we have signs all over the valley telling us approximately how long it will take to get to various exits. When I know it’s going to take 20 min, I’m somehow more relaxed and the traffic is not as stressful. I can think of several more examples…can you?
Do not underestimate the power of timely, relevant and honest communications with your customers (internal or external). So what is the equivalent of a fire at sea in your organization or industry? What is your communications’ plan if it were to happen?
Happy Sailing, Erik