As my good fortune would have it, Santa Claus brought a trip to Disney for my questionably behaved children. His list had them at NICE, but I think there was typo. Fortunately for them, Santa and Mrs Claus have a different scoring system than dear old dad. (wink,wink) .
Anyhoo, after a 6:15 AM mad dash out the door Christmas morning to catch our 8:00am flight, I got to thinking about the last time I went to Walt Disney World. I was absolutely blown away by the precision in the way they deliver happiness. Yes, you heard right, one of their products is about as close to pure happiness that you can get without mind altering substances. There is no way that many people can have a good attitude all at the same moment. How do they do it? I was eager to see that Happiness in action again. While I like happy friendly people, I was more intrigued at how coordinated the whole operation must be to achieve such happiness at a grand scale.
I’ve been talking about customer service lately. How do we relate our customer service to theirs? They got Space Mountain , we got 60″ 3D plasmas. Not really the same thrill factor there. Boiled right down to the bone here, the commonality is customer expectations. I’m not going to reiterate what we all know as the actions we should take to hit these expectations. I’m more interested in how an organization looks at it from the perspective of not hitting expectations but having standards so high that on a bad day everyone still thinks it’s the happiest place on earth and expectations are exceeded by leaps and bounds. Their standards are so high, we as the “client” have to raise our level of happiness to function in that park. It’s impossible to have a bad moment there. If you do, you need to seek a therapist of some sort’s help.
How does this example translate and relate to the “plan” to survive 2011 using customer service? It’s attitude and commitment.
You have to commit to being so freakin’ positive that people will think you have sunshine coming out your ass . Really !!! You need to be committed to being positive to providing an experience that is far beyond expectations. Obviously some happy pills won’t make it all better. You need to drive your process’ to the point where the mistakes are at a minimum. Everyone involved has to be committed to operating at this level, and I mean everybody 100%, otherwise one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. When there is an issue, the answer is a solution, not a reference to the fine print or an excuse or a blow off. You do what it takes to make it right.
The Mouse does it on a massive scale. I spent 6 days there actively looking for a staff member who was not in a splendid mood. I found two out of the literally hundreds that I came across. One was a photographer, she was pleasant enough, but she wasn’t smiling and exuberant. Her manners were intact, there were the usual please, thank yous, have a great day, but no exuberance. The second was a woman directing the crowd that was standing waiting to meet a character, Handy Manny. She was loud and to the point. Not mean or ill tempered, just loud and direct. Another “cast member” strode up to her and for a split second there was a look of death on her face as she leaned into this woman and spoke into here ear for a second. The first woman sighed and rolled her eyes. As the other Cast member was pulling away I saw her with the death look on her face mouth the word “Smile” and then her face resumed the standard issue look of happiness. It was only maybe a 10 second episode, very subtle and indiscreet, but unmistakable that it was an employee receiving some constructive criticism on the “sales floor”.
We were walking along side of the resort going from the bus stop to the entrance of the hotel and a maintenance worker carrying some trash bags stopped as we were passing by. He put down the bags stepped forward and greeted the children, asking them about where they were off to and if they were excited. He wished all of us a great day. After we passed he picked up the trash and continued on his way. That’s commitment. The janitor taking out the trash knows priority one is being happy and friendly with the guests above all else.
How do we learn from Disney? What is the secret to getting buy in on that scale? They have tens of thousands of people involved in all sorts of capacities in that location. On top of that they are dealing with the great unwashed masses called tourists. Not exactly the easiest bunch to keep satisfied. How do I motivate the approximately 50 people to even half that level?