3 Reasons an ESN Can Be a Godsend in Restaurant Emergency Communications

February 21, 2019 - 5 minute read

Everyone eats out at a restaurant or orders take-away. Unless you live in the June Cleaver era, this is just a fact. But data shows this happens more often than not. In fact, nearly 20 percent of respondents aged 18 to 29 years old stated they visited a fast food restaurant 10 or more times in 2018. This isn’t all that surprising considering almost 19 million people reported visiting a full service restaurant, while over 49 million reported visiting a quick service restaurant in the spring of 2016.

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But when emergencies arise, things can go haywire in more ways than one. Take, for example, what happened to Chipotle when an e-coli outbreak led to a massive occurrence of food poisoning, which affected over 700 customers. 700 customers, you heard me. Meanwhile, in June 2018, a customer at an Austin, TX Chick-fil-A restaurant choked and an employee quickly jumped into action, performing the Heimlich maneuver, to save his life. These are just a few examples of what types of emergencies could put businesses, particularly restaurants, into peril.

There are many steps restaurants can take to mitigate these types of risks. Here are three reasons technology, and communications technology in particular, is in fact a vital component to resolving such issues.

Reason #1: When natural disasters strike, an ESN improves the discovery of 'unaccounted' employees and speeds up response times

When an emergency occurs, a delay can be the difference between life and death (literally, in many cases). Take, for example, Hurricane Katrina, the tropical cyclone that struck the southeastern United States in late August 2005. Now ranked as the costliest natural disaster in US history, the hurricane claimed more than 1,800 lives and left several cities and states pummeled and in absolute turmoil. And there have been hurricanes since then, including Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Irma. 

Hurricane Katrina Disaster

In each of these situations, thousands of employees, possibly more, were directly affected by the hurricanes. And when you put this into the context of a multi-unit restaurant chain trying to track down and confirm the safety of thousands of employees dispersed across the affected area (which could often spread across multiple cities, states and even countries), doing this manually would be extremely time and labor intensive. These kinds of delays could cause a great deal of confusion, fear and concern - not just among your employees but also among their families and friends.

So how could technology help? For one, the HR team could use the designated enterprise social network to post an Alert about the current situation, the safety measures being implemented, updates on employees who haven’t been accounted for, and more. Second, the HR team could also post Private Messages that are targeted to specific stores/locations/teams to ensure those groups understand what is occurring, and the process for submitting leave (to take care of their personal situations, be it to find new/temporary housing, to help family/friends in their time of need or any other reason).

Additionally, it would be beneficial to not simply list the names of those employees who haven’t checked in with the HR team during the disaster/emergency. By tagging their profiles in the Alert post (similar to how you would do so on consumer social media apps/sites), it would likely increase the speed with which those ‘unaccounted’ employees would respond in the comments to confirm their safety.

Reason #2: When customer emergencies arise, an ESN helps employees resolve the situation quickly and effectively

Let’s talk about some other types of crises and emergencies that can strike restaurants. For instance, a customer could have a severe allergic reaction to an ingredient in your food. Or perhaps a customer begins choking on a piece of meat and can’t breathe. Or worse yet, similar to what plagued hundreds of Chipotle customers, a food poisoning outbreak could potentially shut down dozens, if not more, of your restaurants for an indefinite period of time. Whatever the cause is, using technology could be a life saviour for both employees and customers. 

Chipotle ClosingHow exactly could technology have this kind of impact on your employees’ and customers’ lives?

Well, think about this way. If your training department was using your employee communications app to post, share and invite interactions with training videos and content on how to perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre if and when customers ever choked, you could ensure that your employees were fully equipped and ready to handle such situations if they ever did occur.

Reason #3: Post-crisis, an ESN creates a more efficient feedback loop

Just because the emergency has been resolved or the crisis has passed doesn’t mean the learnings or sharing of information should stop. If we don’t learn from the bad things that happen, then we’re doomed to repeat them. This is where feedback is critical.

Once the disaster or crisis has ended (or is close to ending), it’s important that all teams across all of the restaurant units share key strengths, weaknesses and lessons learned with each other. This will serve to improve the way help is provided and speed up the resolution in future instances. And if all of these learnings are shared to the relevant groups on an enterprise social network, then it’s a win-win for all.   

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Ragini Bhalla

Written by Ragini Bhalla

A veteran in B2B content and communications, Ragini lives and breathes for storytelling, traveling (up to over 50 countries and still so many more to explore) and trying out new foods.