The Ticket To Great Customer Service, Walt Disney Had It!
To make service shine on the Disney (DIS) park side, Walt looked to Van France, who brought an Imagineer's mind to taking care of customers. "Van had a challenge laid before him by Walt and his team: to make the Happiest Place on Earth," Doug Lipp, former head of Disney's training team, told IBD. "They had the world's best architects. Now, fill those buildings with people who could make it the Happiest Place on Earth."
• It's showtime. Anytime you talk to customers, Lipp says, it ought to feel like a performance. You want to be authentic, but mind the details. Keep your clothes pressed and spot-free. Have poise. And keep your bathrooms clean.
Disney goes beyond all that, calling its staff cast members. "Any area where the guest comes into contact with a cast member or the Disney property is part of the show and is called onstage," said Lipp, author of the soon-to-be-released book "Disney U: How Disney University Develops the World's Most Engaged, Loyal and Customer-Centric Employees."
• Stay in good character. Lipp helps companies develop their employees Disney-style. During a hospital corporate retreat, he reminded nurses to approach patients with all the sweet-natured flair of Snow White or Prince Charming, minus the costume.
"It's the nurse giving the IV and saying, 'I am sure this is not the easiest thing in the world. How about if we lay you down for a bit?'" Lipp said. "You can sew me up and put me on machines, but you can also have emotional care."
• Walk the park. Walt Disney, who died in 1966, loved to visit Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., with a child's eyes. He taught his executives to stroll around the operations too. While they were at it, they were expected to pick up any trash left on the ground.
Disney once questioned the skippers working the Jungle Cruise because they weren't acting terrified by the mechanical hippos every time they drove the ride. "The way I think of it is, we can't learn to see until we admit we're blind," said former Disney Imagineer Alan Kay. "Once you start down at this very humble level, then you can start finding new ways to see things."
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