Nobody Does Customer Service Like Disney

I just returned from the Incentive Marketing Association Summit in Orlando, where we stayed at the Grand Floridian at Disney World. Say what you want about the magic or the commercialism of these parks and properties – nobody does customer service like Disney.

There is a lot of conversation about the importance of the customer experience – Disney has this nailed. It starts as soon as you make your reservation. You have a number of options to register for certain programs up front, such as:

  • Magic Bands: these are the wrist bands that open your room door and serve as a charge card for everything you do at the hotel or at the park. These can be shipped to your home or are given to you when you check in. You choose the PIN and you won’t need a room key or charge card for the rest of your visit.
  • The Magical Express: Disney will also send you luggage tags so that when you land in Orlando, you proceed to the Magical Express desk, give your tags to the agent and they will collect your luggage and deliver it to your room. Then you board the bus for the resort. Free. (Well, included).
  • Because I was at a conference, I didn’t actually visit any of the parks (except for a private event at Epcot where we were bussed in…), so I can’t speak to the various ticket packages or opportunities to make a reservation for a couple of rides, reducing the amount of time you’ll spend in line – but they are available.
  • All of those photos that are taken all over the park? Your kids with the characters, photos of your family on the rides – all of those can be yours with the Disney PhotoPass. For a mere $149, you can view, download and share an unlimited number of photos commemorating your experience – again linked to your Magic Band.
  • There are a number of Apps that allow you to view a map of each park, monitor the wait time at each attraction, make restaurant reservations, and shop! If you see an item in one of the shops but need another size, you can scan it and the app will tell you where that size sku is in all of Disney World. You can elect to go there, have it delivered to your room or shipped to your home – all with a swipe of your finger or scan of your Magic Band.
  • Checking out? You deliver your luggage to the desk at the front of the resort; they’ll tag it, deliver it to the airport and check it in for your flight. No struggling with luggage at the airport. You get back on the Magical Express and are dropped off at your terminal. (Oh, and the luggage tags and your boarding passes are delivered to your room the night before).

Where Disney really excels, obviously, is in taking your money – you can take your family to Europe for what a week at Disney World will cost you – but they definitely provide value and service for your hard-earned dollars.

One of our Keynote speakers was a representative of Disney that spoke about their customer service philosophy.  Here are the key messages:

They “Overmanage”, which is not the same as “micromanage.” At Disney, we think about things differently, pay extraordinary attention to details, and strategically place emphasis that is both greater than and different from what is typical for corporate best practice.

Exceptional service is about systems, standards, and processes. Exceptional service happens when you excel in the careful design of service; the intentional, flawless delivery of service; and having a recovery “safety net” when service does not go as planned.

A customer’s experience with your company is about more than just what the customer is buying; it is also about service.

Creating an emotional connection with a customer is more powerful than connecting with him on a rational level alone. With an emotional connection, you can create a stronger bond with the customer regarding how he/she feels about your organization.

Widely held industry stereotypes provide an organization with opportunities for significant service differentiation by exceeding expectations relative to the stereotypes of their industry.

Organizations tend to understand service as simply an external driver of marketplace differentiation. Internal service is just as important as external service, because it can differentiate your organization as an employer of choice and influence your external service.

If this sounds like a giant commercial for Disney, it’s not intended as such. Through the IMA and the connections provided by the Incentive Travel Council members, I’ve stayed at some pretty luxurious resorts. The Grand Floridian rooms are not the most lavish that I ever stayed in, but they are beautifully appointed, comfortable and it’s certainly convenient to be on the Disney monorail system.

It’s not too often that I’m impressed by a travel experience. Disney accomplished that.

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