Most people who vacation at Disney theme parks come home with very positive impressions of the exceptional customer service they received. People report that even the employees who dress up as Captain Hook and Minnie Mouse deliver a top-notch customer experience. So I was interested to learn that the Disney Institute, the educational wing of Disney, offers a training program for businesses called Disney's Approach to Quality Service. I haven't taken the course, but the prospectus alone provides food for thought:
"Regardless of industry, if you have customers, you're in the customer-service business. With increasing access to information and alternative products, your customer is choosing where to do business based on the level of service they receive. The world-class reputation for Disney service is based not on `magic,' but on time-tested methods and sound business ideology."
What are those time-tested methods? Here are some specific skills that the program teaches that could serve as a checklist to see how your customer service stacks up against Disney's:
Match your service to customer expectations. The program recommends "defining, differentiating, and utilizing customer demographics and psychographics" to create a quality customer experience. This is an important point. How can you give your customers what they expect without knowing who they are?
Pinpoint the systems that deliver customer service, and make them excellent. Within Disney's parks for example, employees (who are called the "cast" in Disney terminology) are the delivery system. ("Our cast is our most valuable asset and one of our most diverse," according to the course description.) In your business, the systems to optimize could be your retail salespeople, your call center, or your technicians.
Develop an organizational culture that supports consistent delivery of quality service. Disney recommends establishing "a common purpose that differentiates employee tasks with a greater service goal." That's another way of saying that your company should have well-defined goals for customer service, and should make sure those goals are working at all customer contact points.
Improve the settings where customer service happens. The Disney course prospectus states that, "The setting (whether physical or virtual) conveys messages about the organization's values and standards, while influencing the moods and perceptions of employees and customers." This is another critical point, because the quality of the place where you interact with your customers is important. It could be a physical space, a calling center, or online.
Create metrics that gauge the needs, perceptions and expectations of your customers. The course plan asks, "What good is the ability to exceed customer expectations if it can't be delivered consistently throughout the organization?" Disney really has it right with this point. If you haven't developed metrics that can be measured and analyzed, how can you constantly improve customer service? I am willing to bet, for example, that Disney measures the average amount of time that people stand in line for different attractions. I am also willing to bet that you can identify similar measureable aspects of your customers' experience, and find ways to improve them.
Thanks to Diana Pohly / Step By Step Marketing / The Pohly Company