When I was visiting Disney World recently, I had a great experience with the Disney tours. We can all learn something about the importance of customer relations from this story, in addition to lessons about employee empowerment.
I was on my own for one day in the Magic Kingdom before my conference started. Inspired by C.B. Whittemore’s great overview of some of the key areas shown in a “behind the scenes” tour(detailed in her blog Flooring the Consumer), I decided to see if I could take one while I was there. I went to Guest Relations at City Hall and asked if there was room on their Keys to the Kingdom tour. All 20 spots were already booked up, but the very friendly person at Guest Relations suggested I wait and see if a spot might open up (people get sick, etc). For the next 30 minutes, I stood quietly in the Guest Relations office, chatting casually with the Cast Members (Disney term for employees), and keeping my fingers crossed (it was raining buckets, so I was hopeful).
The Surprise Answer
Five minutes before the tour was to begin, one of the Cast Members came out and told me I was on the tour. “Did someone cancel?”, I asked. “No. You have been so good about waiting patiently, we decided we could make our tour 21 people today.” I was thrilled! But wait – there’s more to the story. The Cast Member continued:
“And, since you have been such a good sport about this, and you have been so polite to us, we are bringing you on the tour compliments of Disney. What would you like for lunch – it’s included!”
Wow, I was totally impressed! This was a $60 tour, and these Cast Members had been empowered to give it to me for free. My expectations were wildly exceeded, and I have been raving about the tour ever since. This was truly surprise and delight for me. I was thrilled to go on the tour, but to give it to me for free was amazing. I was indeed floored.
My tour guide, Mark, did a fabulous job, and I spent 5 hours engrossed in the stories he was telling and gawking at the sites I got to see: behind the scenes where they keep the parade floats, the giant water tank that makes up Splash Mountain, the Pirates of the Caribbean building (from the outside of it), the impressive garbage collection system (where they sort trash by hand), some of the characters before they go “on stage” in their prep area, and the amazing “utilidor”, or employee tunnel system that runs under the entire park. We also got to go on 3 rides accompanied by our guide who shared some of the “secrets” behind them. Very cool!
There are lessons here both for customers as well as for companies.
Customers: There is never any need to get overly upset when the answer is “no”. Being polite and treating others with respect is the best way to get what you are hoping for. Customer service reps are people, too – and sometimes, their hands truly are tied. Other times, like at Disney World, they are empowered to “make your dreams come true”.
Companies: How are you empowering your employees to surprise and delight your customers? It makes the customer feel great, and the employee also feels great about how they can help a customer. It doesn’t always have to be about giving things away for free. It is most often the little things that make a difference – like taking one more person on a tour, or sending a thank-you note. A big smile really helps, too!
For more conversations about surprise, check out Andy Nulman’s blog, Pow! Right Between the Eyes! You’ll be glad you did.
Designing the Disney Experience
Little things make a difference for customers
More little things that make a difference