11 Sep

Post-Crisis customer response and staff support  

Author: Joanne Muccio, Trauma Care Consultant, Centre for Crisis Psychology (CCP)

Post-holiday blues are common, usually as a result of returning home from a thoroughly enjoyable holiday. However, what if you were involved in something traumatic: a road traffic accident; a robbery; witnessed a drowning; sexual violence; a physical assault or were caught up in a terrorist attack? Imagine how you would respond to a friendly, “Hi how was your holiday?” 

Unfortunately, there are customers exposed to trauma every year and it is therefore essential they have access to timely, efficient and expert support. The risks to customers’ mental health and wellbeing, as well as the travel organisation’s reputation are obvious. For customers, supportive interventions soon after an incident help normalise and reduce long-term trauma reactions. Common reactions might include: shock, disbelief, hypervigilance, anxiety, fear, safety issues and isolation, to name a few. Without crisis intervention and effective sources of support, customers can feel abandoned, let-down, fearful, anxious and angry. For travel companies proactive psychological and emotional support demonstrates an understanding and acknowledgement of the customers’ experience, and a duty of care. Preparing to effectively manage adverse and traumatic incidents makes sense – to limit long-term consequences for all involved.  

Care or crisis planning should extend to staff working on crisis helplines or staff supporting colleagues and customers in the immediate aftermath of trauma. Staff may be involved in assisting customers in a variety of ways post-trauma. Perhaps advising physically injured customers, visiting hospitals, attempting to locate lost customers and providing emotional support and reassurance. All are essentially challenging, stressful and potentially traumatic situations for staff. Therefore, it is essential they have access to good quality support, the opportunity to debrief and examine the impact on them and feel they can talk in confidence without judgement. A culture of care works best, where accessing support is considered a given if staff are actively involved in helping customers in distress. As the risks of developing vicarious trauma or burn-out are well recognised in the world of trauma, we have the knowledge and ability to prevent any further harm.

Proactive intervention can help prepare and empower customers, staff and organisations for the future, a future that includes amazing holiday experiences.

Crisis support expert Joanne Muccio will be delving further into post-incident management on Tuesday 1 October. This is just one of the topics being covered in ABTA’s An Introduction to Crisis Management seminar taking place next month at ABTA’s offices in London Bridge.  Find out more and register your place at abta.com/abtaevents.