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Why Customer Service is Everyone’s Job

4 Lessons from Disney


Last year, Disney Parks & Resorts took in over $15 Billion in revenue and generated over $2.6 Billion in operating income. They don’t have the fastest or the biggest roller coasters, so how do they do it? They create a magical experience through amazing customer service.

Disney’s customer service model is based on thoroughly understanding customers’ expectations and exceeding those expectations. Every employee, or as they say, cast member, is responsible for delivering quality service. Easy to say, but hard to do.

Let’s break this idea down into four simple lessons you can use from the “House of the Mouse”:

LESSON #1: Treat every experience like a first experience


We spoke with a Disney cast member and he shared this tidbit:

I treat every guest interaction as if it’s my first interaction. Every day I’m in the park, 30 – 40 guests ask me when the park closes. Yes, the question gets old, but it’s important to the guest, so I keep a smile on my face and provide the information they need.

Approaching service from the customer’s point of view and adopting a willing attitude preserves the magic of the experience.

LESSON #2: Teach employees to identify customer needs


Kay of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, tells this story:

I took my 3-year-old granddaughter to the Magic Kingdom for a special vacation. We were enjoying a show when she turns to me and says, “I need to go potty.” I frantically began climbing over other people in the audience and scrambled to an exit. Upon leaving the show, one of the employees noticed the desperate look on my face and asked, “Are you having a Disney moment?” I said, “We need a bathroom.” She kindly escorted us directly to the nearest bathroom and saved us from a terrible accident.

What’s fascinating about this story is that the cast member proactively reached out to the customer and asked if there was an issue in a humorous, non-confrontational way. She was able to identify an issue and provide a solution, without being asked, and saved the day for a customer.

LESSON #3: Empower employees to solve problems


Rebecca of Columbus, Ohio, shares:

I was in front Cinderella’s castle, watching a princess story, with my daughter on my shoulders. She was eating a chocolate Mickey Mouse ice cream on a stick, when the entire treat came off the stick and fell on my head, ice cream streaming down my face. A street sweeper noticed the incident and ran over to help. He said, “I’ll take care of this, you’ll want to keep watching the show.” He brought back napkins and replaced my daughter’s ice cream, turning tears into smiles. Clearly the accident was in no way his fault, but he fixed it anyway.

The street sweeper was empowered to provide a solution to the problem. He wasn’t chastised for neglecting his sweeping duties for a few moments and he didn’t have to ask management for a voucher to replace the ice cream. In the Magic Kingdom, and every other resort, cast members have the ability to right wrongs, even when it’s no fault of their own.

LESSON #4: Management spends time on the front-lines


If you walk around any of the parks in California or Orlando, you’ll start to notice a trend – some of the cast members taking tickets and sweeping streets are actually executives from the nearby corporate office. Every member of management spends time in the parks and resorts working on the front-lines. Executives are taught to observe guests and use that information to make smarter decisions about processes and policies. This approach has the added benefit of gaining employee buy-in when new processes are implemented.

Most of these concepts don’t require big budgets. In fact, many small and medium-sized businesses find it easier to implement great customer service processes than large enterprises who are weighed down with bureaucracy and layers of management. Pick one of these concepts and apply it to your team – create a “magical experience” in your own organization.