Why Not “Disney-esque” Service for Everyone?
Basketball fans from the 90’s have heard the term “Jordan-esque” in reference to players that approach the greatness of Michael Jordan. I would like to propose another term, more closely related to our business of customer service: “Disney-esque”. After a recent visit to Disneyworld, my family and I couldn’t help but notice the level of service, and the level of consistency with which that service is provided. This provokes a curious question. Why is Disney so unique among companies in its ability to ensure a high quality interaction with virtually every employee; from the character dressed as Mickey to the maintenance personnel? Considering that the company (including all ventures) is a $33B+ company with more than 140,000 employees, Disney even seems to overcome the scalability challenges that many of us face – in much smaller companies.
Is it the specific people that work there? Probably, but they aren’t born ‘Disney-ers’ so there must be a hiring and training component to it. Is it their policies? Likely, but we all know the challenges of change management and gaining compliance amongst employees. Is it the joy of the work? Maybe, but even in the “Magic Kingdom” customers are demanding and often begrudging – especially with impatient children tugging at our pants. Whatever the cost to maintain its image, Disney also maintains profitability because we all pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for the experience – even if we have to save for years to do so.
I suspect that the answer is all of the above and more, but I can’t say I know the secret recipe. However, I have drawn the conclusion Disney-esque service is possible in any environment; even when it’s a computer, an appliance, a residential meter, or an MRI machine that is the service target instead of a ride on “It’s a Small World.” Furthermore, I propose the following hypothesis: If the service experience is sufficiently and uniquely pleasant, people will pay nearly (or more than) what they can afford for it. In other words, the statement that great customer service is too costly to provide is an excuse, and not a fact. And when we fall short of this standard, we can’t blame the cost, the customers, or even the personnel (after all we hire, train, and monitor them).
If you disagree or believe that “Disney-esque” service is truly magic, let me know and give me a good excuse of my own. Otherwise, I challenge each of us in our own company to find the means (not the money) to make every service visit a time to remember.