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Late tonight, NYC Swim made the decision to cancel the 2013 Hudson River Swim, 13 hours before the race start tomorrow morning, due to weather advisories, water safety advisories, high winds, and small craft advisories. With 2013 being one of the coldest Memorial Day Weekends on record in NYC, air temperatures at the start were estimated to be in the 40s, and 50s in the water. Ugh!
I was scheduled to race, and had pretty much told myself I probably wouldn’t because of the weather, specifically the temps. I was bummed, because it’s a fun race, but 50 degree water AND air temps are brutal, and the last thing I needed was to get sick at the beginning of the season. So when I got the email from NYC Swim announcing the cancelation around 10:20pm tonight, my guilt for not wanting to swim was immediately absolved.
More importantly, NYC Swim did EXACTLY what a company is supposed to do when forces out of their control require major changes on the fly. The first email came at 7pm, alerting us that as of then, the swim was still on, but we’d get an email around 10pm with an update. In other words, “hey, we’re letting you know that we’ll be reaching out again in a few hours with the possibility of change, be aware.”
The update email at 10:20pm alerted us to the cancelation, and I saw it, and assumed that was the end of it. They followed up and let us know, as they said they would, cool. But then, four minutes later, my mobile phone rang with an 888 number I didn’t recognize. I answered it, and it was a recording from NYC Swim, alerting me again to the cancelation.
Two minutes later, my wife called me (I was on a CVS Drugstore run, welcome to having a newborn,) telling me that the home phone had just rang with the same NYC Swim recording.
Wow. So email first, mobile phone second, and home phone third. THAT’S notification.
Yes, it sucks that the race was canceled, but NYC Swim did exactly the right thing. They alerted in every way possible. But wait! There’s more!
See, here’s where it goes above and beyond from a customer service perspective: You’d think, “OK, they alerted people, they did what they should have done, end of story.” And you’d be right because that’s as much as we expect.
But NYC Swim took it a step further. From the cancelation email they sent, notice they did two things immediately:
1) Please feel free to join us any time between 9:25 and 11:00 at the start location to pick up your souvenir T-shirt and see fellow swimmers and volunteers. All swimmers who had been approved for the event will receive a 50% credit toward a new enrollment for a 2013 or 2014 swim series event. You will see the option to enroll at a discount in the online enrollment form.
2) Still want to get in a swim? Pick up your goody bag and take it to the Reebok Club on Columbus Avenue at West 67th Street. The complimentary entry pass inside gets you access to all facilities, including the pool, fitness center, track and Jacuzzi where you can warm up and soak the day away. We were really looking forward to this event and are truly sorry that the swim won’t be held. We greatly appreciate your support and hope to see you tomorrow even without the swim.
So to recap: They’ll be at the swim start tomorrow morning anyway, even though the swim is canceled, to greet anyone who didn’t get the email or phone calls, as well as anyone who wants to stop by for the goody bag. AND, (and you know they had to have done this in advance,) they made arrangements to allow one of the top gyms in the city to give every registered swimmer access to their pool, fitness center, track, and Jacuzzi tomorrow. Were you planning on using tomorrow’s race as a workout? Simply go to the Reebok club, and you still can, for free.
Consider that all this was offered to swimmers because of a weather cancel, something out of NYC Swim’s control, something they easily could have said wasn’t their fault. Instead, they stepped up. THIS is how you handle something out of your control. You do what you need to do on the spot, but you also pre-plan in case of a crisis. I’m willing to bet that every registered 2013 swimmer will sign up for the 2014 race, and that a good amount will show up tomorrow morning at the start, knowing full well there won’t be a race. I know I will.
Bravo to NYC Swim. Customer service and crisis management at its finest.