Why corporate policies must allow for compassion

A young mother shared this story on the web…

Our carbon monoxide detector sounded on around 3am. We opened windows and doors to circulate air. Eventually, we noticed smoke coming from the hot water heater, which is natural gas. So, we shut that off and decided to err on the side of caution. At 3:38 in the middle of the night, we left home and sought refuge at a well-known hotel chain. It was our first stop. We were told by a staff member that rooms were available for rent, but the company policy does not allow the local county residents to rent the rooms. I explained that our house was full of carbon monoxide and my girls need a safe place to sleep for the night. The staff member-brand ambassador-customer facing employee, then proceeds to tell me that our situation was not her problem. So, I lost my home and no hotel in that area would rent to me because I'm a local county resident. I was extremely tired and panicked at this point. We drove to another chain down the highway, explained the situation and they graciously allowed us to rent a room.

Now, she goes on to say that she never uses social media to complain but if those policies are in place in your area, this young woman wanted people to know.

I understand small-town area cultures. I agree that employees feel bound to uphold the company policy lest they get in trouble and lose their jobs. However, a corporate policy should always have an exception for compassion that needs to be extended to people in emergency situations.

I understand that there are many things that go on illicitly in hotel rooms in the middle of the night. But there's a caveat here. By and large, the average woman is not going to show up at 3:30 in the morning with children in tow, explaining a dire situation to your team member, only to be told, “Oh, no, that's not my problem.” That is ridiculous. How can you turn away a young woman who is standing there with babies in tow and she's explaining to you what's going on?

You need to have compassion because here's the thing… businesses, big and small, are always started and maintained by people. You don't do business with the sign. You don't do business with the logo. You do business with the brand. You do business with the people that are representing the brand. She was able to go right down the street. Thank goodness there was someone with a brain cell working and a heart of compassion to let this family in.

Are there going to be times when people are taken advantage of? Yes, but if you err on the side of caution, and compassion, you can't go wrong. Where have does it say that we must turn people away in the middle of the night? If you find it, then you need to call your corporate people into accountability. Especially if you are front line or customer-facing, because it makes it really hard for you, as you're going to have to deal with all the irate misunderstandings and the people who are really in need but don’t get any compassion. There are people in every organization that want to hide behind company policy. I get it. It's easy. It's expedient, but it's not right and it needs to be called out in order to be corrected.

If the human element is not included in your company culture, you not only lose a customer, but now you have other people talking about it because social media is such a huge thing. So, if you or a company you know of, need to review your policies, then please reach out to me. I am on a mission to eradicate a lot of this foolishness, because it just needs to be checked.

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