Taking Direction From Disney's Customer-Care Philosophy

The compass figures prominently into the Disney philosophy of customer service ("Guestology"). Here are the four key points of its customer-care beliefs.

Last month, we held our first Celebrity Expert Marketing Academy. And, because our Dicks + Nanton Agency is located in Orlando, we knew we didn’t have to travel far to give our clients the best (and most productive) experience possible. We just took them all over to our neighbor’s place, which has plenty of room.

And we’re not kidding when we say that. It covers over 30,000 acres and includes four theme parks, two water parks, 24 themed resorts, two spas and fitness centers, and five golf courses.

Our neighbor, of course, is Disney World, the world’s most visited entertainment resort. And, no, we didn’t go there to ride the flying elephants at the Dumbo ride (we have plenty of time to do that on our own). Instead, we went with our clients to learn some of the special secrets that have made Disney the incredible success it’s been for over 80 years. Fortunately, the corporation has set up The Disney Institute to enable all of us not wearing mouse ears to get some inside business tips.

Many of those tips focus on providing the customer with the best experience possible. The fact is that Disney’s customer service is the gold standard for every business--because their management understands that if you don’t treat your paying patrons as you should, you’re going in the wrong direction.

So let’s talk about how to go in the right direction--with the help of a very special compass.

Walt Disney evidently loved compasses. You’ll find what’s called the “Compass Rose” in front of the walking area in front of and in back of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. Not only that, but it was Compass East Corporation that began buying land in the Orlando area in the mid-1960s. That company was a cover for the Disney organization, which was snatching up property left and right for what would become Disney World; they hid their name from the transactions because, of course, sellers would have demanded more than the fair market price if they had known who was really after the transaction.

The compass, to this day, figures prominently in the Disney philosophy of customer service. For instance, we learned about the four points of The Disney Compass when it comes to how to treat a customer (an area of study Disney calls Guestology). We’d like to share these four profitable and productive directions with you here:

N - Needs
W - Wants
S - Stereotypes
E – Emotions

Let’s take these in turn and see how they impact your relationships with your clients or customers.

When we discuss a customer’s needs, we’re talking about the basics. If a person goes to the doctor, they might “need” medicine to get well. If someone goes to a CPA, they might “need” someone to do their taxes. It’s about meeting the minimum requirements of your business, whatever they might be.

Wants allow you the opportunity to kick it up a notch or two. For example, the person going to the CPA may also “want” new strategies to save on their taxes. When you provide that extra optional level of service, you differentiate yourself and give people more reason to come back to you, as well as refer you to other people.

Stereotypes require you to overcome negative impressions a customer might have of you or your business. For example, a stereotype of doctors might be that they only care about money and don’t care how long they make you cool your heels in the waiting area. If you are an MD, you can overcome that stereotype by attempting to minimize a patient’s waiting time and maximizing the one-on-one consultation time with you.

Finally, it’s common knowledge that emotions are often more powerful than logic when it comes to buying decisions. That’s why it’s always important to tap into what makes your customers or clients feel good about buying from you and focus on that in your delivery and fulfillment systems.

The Disney Institute is full of simple concepts like the above that enable you to bring a clear, yet sophisticated approach to doing business in the best possible way. We love to deliver those kinds of concepts to our clients (as well as ourselves, because we find they work like gangbusters), and we’re happy to share this one with you here.

With that in mind, we’ll leave you with seven more big ideas from seven rather small guys that will enable you to serve your clientele at the highest level possible.

1. Be Happy…make eye contact and smile!

2. Be like Sneezy…greet and welcome each and every client. Spread the spirit of Hospitality…it’s contagious!

3. Don’t be Bashful…seek out client contact.

4. Be like Doc…provide immediate service recovery.

5. Don’t be Grumpy…always display appropriate body language at all times.

6. Be like Sleepy…create dreams and preserve the magical client experience.

7. Don’t be Dopey…thank each and every customer!

Keep those seven principles in mind and you’re sure to dwarf the competition.

--JW Dicks (@jwdicks) & Nick Nanton (@nicknanton) are best-selling authors who consult for small- and medium-size businesses on how to build their business through personalit- driven marketing, personal-brand positioning, guaranteed media, and mining hidden business assets. They offer free articles, white papers, and case studies at celebritybrandingagency.com.

[Image: Flickr user Miss Kels]

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5 Comments

  • Shafiq

    Brilliant article, entire focus is on the customer, who is the business. 

  • Ghenders

    I love this. I work in an area with difficult clients and the article gives a great perspective for improving the process. Thank you. I'd love the opportunity to go & learn more!

  • Enkata

    Sometimes what a customer says they need is not exactly what they want. I need a shovel because I want to plant my garden; I could do it with my bare hands but a shovel makes the whole process a lot better for me. You need to figure our how you can give customers what they need AND what they want. 

  • Shep Hyken

    Everyone and every business should learn and understand how Disney does what it does so well.  This article gives us a great summary of the four points of the “Disney Compass.”