My family and I LOVE all things Disney. We live in Michigan but that doesn’t stop us from being annual pass holders. We spend a considerable amount of time on the Disney properties, from California to Florida to Paris, France. A constant in our visits is the unbelievable level of customer service that Disney instills in their employees. These are their Cast Members.

Regardless of where a Cast Member is assigned, they buy into the concept of providing an unforgettable experience for the guest. In all our years visiting Disney (we are going on 20 years of visits) we have NEVER encountered a Cast Member that was anything less than outstanding, These experiences have provided the feeling that our interaction was the most important part of their job. As a result, our family looks forward with much anticipation to our visits. Sometimes we plan our next visit before we have left the Disney property! Disney has mastered the art of employee engagement and it all starts with something as simple as an attitude.

When you think of a guest in your home, what image comes to mind? To me, it means the house is clean, I have food in the fridge and when they arrive, they are given red-carpet treatment.

Now think of a customer. What image does that bring to mind? More often than not, our team members do not interact with our “guests” in a way that is really memorable. A simple (yet difficult) change in mindset in how we view those we serve is critical. The goal is to help our team members catch the vision on Guest relationships. Disney is so good at this, they formed the Disney Institute. There business leaders can receive instruction on how to reproduce the Guest-centered mindset for themselves. Leaders from all over the world attend Disney Institute to emulate the culture that Disney has created. You don’t want customers to only buy your product or service once. If you want repeat business, your employees need to have full buy in.

In all the years I’ve been visiting Disney attractions, it’s always PACKED. An endless sea of people is the norm when you visit a Disney Park. For some, it is their first visit and for others (like me) it’s one of many such visits. A Disney Cast Member doesn’t know which scenario they are encountering when they engage with guests, but they don’t let that factor into their thought process. Their sole focus is ALWAYS on providing a one-of-a-kind experience for EVERY guest. The only way to reach this goal is to concentrate all your efforts on people and to become obsessed with the quality of your customer experience.

Walt Disney used to say, “You don’t build it for yourself. You know what the people want and you build it for them.” We often do things how WE want them done, so whatever you do or plan to do, always consider the customer first.  Remember, it’s all about the customer. Take care of them and everything else tends to fall into place.

I am often in awe of the Disney organization. My expectations are always exceeded, no matter how many times I visit. When you enter the Magic Kingdom of Disney, you feel like dreaming, like you can accomplish anything. Dreams always far exceed reality. This is a lesson for all of us: never settle for anything less than what customers deserve. Give them what they need, when they need it, wherever they are. Learn to anticipate before they ask for help.

Walt also said, “I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in the Park. I want them to feel they’re in another world.” clearly, the devil is in the details. We all know the absolute obsession Walt Disney had for every single detail in movies as in his theme parks. We must have the same obsession and willingness to innovate, provide products our customers want and a level of service that is truly memorable. It is becoming increasingly competitive so don’t be afraid to experiment to find the “secret sauce.”

Finally, always remember your organization is made up of people. You can have the best product or service in the world, but your people are the ones who deliver and represent it. The first thing your guests see is your team. Walt Disney was well acquainted with this concept and created a culture that is the envy of companies throughout the world. Do you really know what your customers want? Hopefully they want what you are offering but one thing is for sure: they want and expect an incredible overall experience. Get it right, and you will be a success. Get it wrong and you’ll have a hard time making much headway. Magic is powerful, no matter how old you are, so channel your inner Walt and you’re sure to have magical results.


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