08 Sep 4 Ways Disney Inspired My Business This Summer
Some families are beach people. Some families are mountain people. My family, we’re Disney people. We don’t go multiple times a year, but we do go at least every other year. We’ve visited enough times, we don’t even pick up park maps anymore and we know which rides (like Peter Pan, Toy Story Mania and Soarin’) back up really quick. Every night as the “motorcoach” (Disney-speak for bus) delivered us back to our hotel, the automated voice would say “Welcome Home”. After 5 trips in 9 years, it does feel a little like home.
The ability of this company to turn a stressful and at times very hot vacation into one you want to do again and again amazes me. Their level of customer service and the attention to detail can’t be matched. I started to think, how can small businesses, B2B businesses, and non-profits use their example to woo our own customers.
Identify your customers’ pain points and create a solution.
The company looked at their guests who took an early flight to Orlando or drove 13 hours with 3 kids and said, what does a tired traveler hate the most? The check-in desk. This year, thanks to the “magic bands”, if you’ve already paid for your vacation in full, you can check in online and the resort will text you your room number when it’s ready. You no longer have to stand in line for an hour just to find out your room isn’t ready yet. If you haven’t already paid in full, they’ve turned check-in into a fun-filled event with entertainers and snacks. What makes your customers growl or roll their eyes? What do they dislike about shopping for your product or using your service? What can you do to make it less painful (or eliminate that process altogether)? Instead of focusing your B2B advertising on the features of your products, show your customers how you are going to solve their problems (and then follow through).
2. Inspire your customers.
Walt’s story is told in an often skipped studio in the back of Hollywood Studios. Stop in the next time you are in the park and hear his story. The opening day of Disneyland was miserable. The first showing of his animatronics flopped. He kept dreaming and working until he inspired enough people to believe in his dreams too. His inspiration was buried so deep in his people, even at his death, his dream lived on. He never saw the opening of Walt Disney World in Orlando, yet it’s a tourist destination for millions. What are your dreams for your company? Have you inspired your employees? How about your customers? If someone told your company’s story would anyone want to listen? Dream big. Talk about those dreams to your employees and your customers. Your product or service may not be as traditionally fun as roller coasters, but your dreams and goals should be inspiring. (For more ideas on making a boring industry more fun, check out this blog post.)Don’t make it all about money but about really changing your community or your industry.
3. Hire enough people and train them well.
Walt Disney World employs over 62,000 people. We came in contact with about half of them. Ask any “cast member” in a park about how to get to a particular ride, where to find a certain character, or which way to get to another park and they can tell you. The security guards checking bags at the gate of the Magic Kingdom will point you in the direction of the bus that will take you to Epcot. They also know you can take a ferry from Magic Kingdom to a resort but not to Hollywood Studios. They aren’t in the transportation department, but they know the answers to the questions because they’ve been trained well. Your staff may not need to be able to answer any random questions a customer asks, but having enough general knowledge to be helpful builds trust with your customers. Cross train your employees enough that they can answer general questions about other parts of the business. Don’t ever allow your employees to tell a customer they do not know and let it go. If they don’t know the answer, make sure they know who to ask and teach them to ask quickly so they can answer the customer’s questions.
4. Know how you expect your employees to look and act
In addition to training their employees well, the company is very particular about their staff’s look and actions while on the job, so much so the appearance of “cast members” has been labeled the Disney Look.
“No matter where you work or what your role is, anytime you are in a public area, you are on stage. Your attitude and performance are direct reflections on the quality of our Disney show.”
Your company or office environment may not require such stringent appearance guidelines. I certainly have nothing against body art. Consider, however, how a uniform look might affect company morale. Would your team perform better as a team with uniforms? Could you offer a clothing allowance or uniform allowance each year? If your team wears suits, can you offer dry cleaning services? What about working out a deal with a local salon for updated hairstyles or manicures for employees who interact with the public? Remember any time your employees interact with customers, clients, vendors or even a gas station attendant on the job, they are representing your company. As this company puts it, they are on stage and you are sponsoring the show.
Mickey’s home base in Orlando has enamored my family as it has many other families across the world. The company, the place, has a way of pushing people past exhaustion and yet the memories make us wish to return. Whether you vacation to the beach or the mountains or around the world, I hope you’ll take time to see what other people are doing well and allow their work to inspire you to make your company stronger.