Customer Service - The Disney Way

Martin Haworth

Visitors: 976

We had been there a number of times. Ever since our first trip there in 1980 - quite an adventure at that time when travelling from the UK. On that very first visit, my wife was pregnant with our first child, yet this visit in the year 2000, seemed to show us how things had changed.

Back in 1980, we bought ‘Disney Dollars’ a gift voucher featuring all the stars of the shows. There were three denominations and we brought them home and had them framed, back and front.

In 2000, we wanted to add to our collection with the souvenir millennium ones, yet left it to our very last night to make our purchase.

Imagine our disappointment when we went to Guest Services at the bottom of Main Street to hear that the $10 voucher was being only sold in EPCOT, as a ‘trial’. Not being one to give up on this, I wished to register my complaint and asked for a senior manager, only to be told that there was no-one about.

So I then asked for the name of the manager at the most senior level in Disney World, but again, I was told just to write to Customer Services and I was given an address in Florida.

That wasn't good enough for me, so I suggested that I would write to Michael Eisner in Burbank, California, where Disney's corporate head office is. I was told by the guest services representative that, ‘I'd never hear back from him'!

When I got home, that is exactly what I did. And about three weeks after I sent off the letter, I had a phone call - in fact, I had two phone calls, because I was out when the first one was fielded by my wife. In the second 20-minute call (not, I hasten to add, from Micheal Eisner, but from a nice lady ‘in his office'), she profusely apologised, questioned me a lot on the issue that I'd raised and pointed me in the direction of where I could buy these vouchers by post. It was a detailed enquiry, so that ‘we can learn from your experience and put it right’.

I was impressed.

But not so impressed as I was four months later when I received a two-page letter from another department, explaining what they had done to rectify the experience I'd had, in detail, as well as sending me a full set of the vouchers I'd wanted in the first place, free of charge.

The Disney experience is one which is well known - in fact the way their customer service process works has been described at length in a great little book called ‘Be Our Guest’ as part of their Disney Institute offer.

Both these are worth checking out if you want to understand better how exemplary customer service works, from an organisation who truly know how to do it.

© 2005 Martin Haworth is a Business and Management Coach. He works worldwide, mainly by phone, with small business owners, executives and corporate leaders. He has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website, . (Note to editors. Feel free to use this article, wherever you think it might be of value - it would be good if you could include a live link)

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