I have always said I would never be that person with a Disney stuffed animal sticking out of my bag on a flight home from Orlando. Never. No way. I am much too cool for that.
After a recent speaking engagement at Disney and four days in the Florida parks with the Disney staff and their fans, I now understand the Disney obsession so many people around the world have. That addiction is fueled by Disney’s customer service and their employee "cast member" attitude:
1.It is good, clean fun. That sounds sort of old-fashioned these days but it was nice. Disney employees are well groomed, with clean uniforms and great attitudes. You do not overhear any employees complaining and you definitely do not hear any employees using foul language. Come to think of it, I do not think I heard any guests using expletives, either.
2. Disney parks and facilities are clean. Really clean. You could serve a meal in their bathrooms and never think twice about it.
3.Every Disney employee looks you in the eye and smiles. Every employee I passed in the hotel and in the parks—from managers to ride operators to cleaning staff and more. Every. Single. One.
4.Disney has embraced a healthy initiative making it easy to find fruit and other healthy foods in the parks. At one point, it was easier to find an orange and an apple than it was to find a hamburger and fries.
5.Disney employees always try to say "yes." I watched a Disney employee turn people away from a reserved VIP parade seating area for an hour without ever uttering the word "no"—instead saying, with a smile, "This area is reserved" and then pointing out a place where the guests could find good seating.
6.The unexpected is expected of Disney employees and that makes for great interaction with the customers as well. I watched a child go from happy with popcorn to sad when it spilled back to happy again when two Disney employees swooped in—one to clean up the spilled popcorn and the other offering to get the child a refill. All within a matter of two minutes.
7.Disney has designated smoking areas but I do not think I was ever near one. Not once did I smell secondhand smoke in four days. That was pleasant.
After a little research, I discovered my seven observations were not that far off from the way Disney employees are trained. Here are the Seven Disney Services Guidelines:
1.Make eye contact and smile
2.Greet and welcome every guest
3.Seek out guest contact
4.Provide immediate service recovery
5.Always display appropriate body language
6.Create dreams and preserve the "magical guest experience"
7.Thanks each and every guest
These seven service guidelines should be the first thing in company employee manuals the world over. Once you master these seven simple steps in everything you do… the rest is pure magic.
And yes, I did return home with a stuffed Mickey Mouse sticking out of my bag. Walt Disney is now on my Rock Star company list.
Want to learn more about how Disney accomplishes this feat with more than 60,000 employees on-site each and every day (89,000 during holiday peak times)? Check out these books from Lee Cockerell, the former Executive Vice President of Operations for the Walt Disney World® Resort:
[Image: Flickr user Feliciano Guimarães]