Why Disney Wins At Customer Service
People will buy from someone they trust, who offers something they want and cares for them.
Disney is a billion-dollar organisation, with many arms and business under its wide umbrella. It wasn't always this way.
Someone We Trust
In the fifties and sixties, Walt Disney would look through the television screen and talk to those watching, as if they were the most important person in the world. He didn’t sell anything (not directly anyway), he didn’t offer a ‘deal’ and he didn’t tell them what they needed. He was a friend.
His viewers were children, or the parents of children, he knew this and talked in a language they understood. He didn't lie, he didn't confuse with big or fancy words. However, as he talked, week after week, they began to trust him.
Even in the seventies, I remember being glued to The Wonderful World of Disney, where older footage of Walt still talked to me.
Something We Want
Eventually they did buy from him. They bought an idea, they bought a dream, his dream. A dream about a place where they could enjoy life, where fun was mandatory, where tears didn’t exist. It wasn’t Heaven, but it was close enough.
It didn't matter, they wanted it. In that era times were tough, smiles weren't as common as people remember. If they could scrape together enough money they could have happiness, even for a little while.
Someone Who Cares
When the opportunity came to visit this wonderful land, millions took it. I'm sure those first few months weren't as perfect as Walt Disney wanted.
When gates first opened at Disneyland in 1955 there were traffic jams, broken rides, food and water shortages, all on top of a 100-degree day.
Walt Disney was a hard man to work for and those first weeks were a major disappointment. He expected perfection and nothing less. Why? Because he longed to make people happy. He longed for people to like him and what he did.
As months passed more people smiled, laughed and created wonderful memories. The problems were forgiven. The man they trusted, who offered something they wanted had delivered. They felt special. They felt he really cared.
That is why there is a part of me that is still sad. Australia is a long way from a Disneyland, so I have not yet made it. But I haven’t given up.
Walt Disney is no longer talking to us, but his legacy remains. Long before we part with money, Disney has sold us an experience. We still want to meet our heroes, whether they be Mickey Mouse or Elsa from Frozen (don’t judge me). We want to walk beside them in this wonderful land. Or am I the only big child?
Have you ever talked with someone who has been to Disneyland? Have you noticed how their faces light up when they discuss the experience? Did you count the times they said they would love to go back?
Do they do that for your company?
"But our company is different?" we say, "we’re not in the entertainment industry."
You’re right, but neither is Disney. They’re in the "People" business, and they know it. Do we know it? Unless we sell to robots, every one of our business are in the "People" business.
I remember a quote which says: "The sales department is not everyone in your business, but everyone in your business better be the sales department."
This means everyone from the CEO to the front server is selling our business. Actually, it's more than that.
Every customer who walks through our front doors, or talks with us on the phone, becomes our advertising agent. Whether we want them to be or not.
Some may say, "Any publicity is good publicity", but bad customer experience is never good publicity.
If our customers have a good experience, they can tell 2 to 5 others, if they have a great experience, they will tell more. If, however, their experience is bad, they will tell even more. There is little point spending thousands, or millions, on advertising, if our customers are negating it with each visit.
We can’t stop them. All we can do is control what they will talk about.
"How can I do that?" we ask.
By ensuring every customer and client has the most awesome experience they can possibly have, and ensuring any negative experiences are almost non-existent and quickly followed up on. When we do this our customers will tell others, who will, in turn, want the same positive experience. After all, who doesn’t want to be looked after, who doesn’t want to feel they are the most important person in the world.
That’s what Disney does. Long before we hand over the money to enter their theme parks, or buy their products, others have shared their good experiences and we want what they had. If Disney left it there, we would be disappointed, but they don't.
Disney have created an institution called Disney University, where they train staff from management to cleaners. They are all taught the same thing about Disney's aims, objectives and standards (which are very high) for treating every person who walks through the gates. That is why a Janitor will stop to help you. For they know "the person in front you is always the most important person."
Yes, the Disney standard of Customer Service is very high. Like most goals, it may at first seem impossible so, depending on where we are in the Customer Service journey, it may not be our first goal. But it all starts with one question.
How can we become someone they trust, who offers something they want and cares for them when they arrive?
© Rod Loader 2017
My last two posts on Customer Service are here: