Rod Loader in Publishers & Bloggers, Customer service, Writers Writer • Loader Writing Mar 13, 2017 · 3 min read · +500

Why Disney Wins At Customer Service

Why Disney Wins At Customer ServicePeople 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.

Going Beyond

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?

Stay Awesome

© Rod Loader 2017

My last two posts on Customer Service are here:

Rod Loader Mar 14, 2017 · #6

Awesome story,Aaron, thanks for sharing. Imagine if our local coffee shop, or supermarket, treated us like that. it's that type of treatment we travel the extra distance and pay the extra money for.#5

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Aaron 🐝 Skogen Mar 14, 2017 · #5

It is interesting @Rod Loader, Disney was a case study in one of my courses of study. It was in regards to behavioral engineering. Ask someone who has been to Disney if they ever noticed a trash can. Most will respond that do not remember seeing trash containers, yet all likely used one. There is true science behind where each trash can is placed, yet they are almost camouflaged into the park,.

OR in another case, my family and I took a Disney cruise several years ago. We were introduced to the captain as we boarded the ship. A few hours later we met our head waiter, table waiter, etc. (the wait staff follows you between restaurants). In each case, the exchange of introductions may have lasted 30 seconds, yet the following morning, our head waiter greeted us with "Mr. & Mrs. Skogen, (and our kids by name) I hope you enjoyed your first night aboard". Taking it a step further, we were four days into our cruise, walking a deck in the lower levels of the ship, when we ran into the captain. He greeted us with "Mr. & Mrs. Skogen, I hope you are enjoying the cruise. Is there anything I can do to make your trip more enjoyable" He then knelt in front of our daughter and called our kids by name, asking how they were enjoying their time. It was a truly spectacular example of service.

I was floored. I have trouble remembering a single persons name after a brief introduction, yet these associates, knew our names, days later. Amazing really.

I enjoyed this post, well done.

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Rod Loader Mar 14, 2017 · #4

Jeff, I think too many companies, including larger companies, thinks customer service starts and ends with selling a product or service. In reality, that can be the smallest part.#3

jeff carter Mar 14, 2017 · #3

Well said Rod. I am currently using a number of Disney Case studies (where they are the consultant) around improving customer service for other multinationals. Very cool stuff! :)

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Rod Loader Mar 14, 2017 · #2

Thanks @Brook Massey. I've read post from people who wrote about Disney University. There is a lot to be gained from it. Of course nobody, including Disney, will get everything right, but it's what we do, when we get it wrong, that make all the difference.#1

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Brook Massey Mar 14, 2017 · #1

Great article. Our accountants wife takes employees from Humana to Disney University classes yearly. There is also a book titled "Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service," which I have actually read. It is informative, but quite dry. Your synopsis is much easier to read!

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