Customer service lessons learned from a mouse
Okay, I don’t mean just any mouse. I mean THE mouse — Mickey Mouse.
A few weeks ago, like thousands of others, I went to Walt Disney World, and the exceptional customer service and professionalism I experienced first-hand was remarkable. Disney is renowned for their high standards of service to their customers (Disney calls them “guests,” actually, regardless of whether customers are at the theme parks or shopping online), and at every touch point, from hotel check-in to dinner reservations, I was astounded by the level of service afforded to every guest.
We don’t all work at companies as large and resourceful as Disney, but there are lessons to be learned by any size organization, in any industry or practice and by anyone who deals with people on a daily basis. Here are four essential customer service tips that Disney has perfected:
Talk to your clients. At every opportunity, and by as many means as possible, keep the lines of communication open. On the phone, via email, in customer surveys and focus groups, be sure to have meaningful conversations with your clients, however brief they may be. Ask them what problem(s) they have that you can solve, and ask them what you are doing right. Don’t just reach out to your clients when you suspect the feedback will be positive; talk to your clients in good times and bad. If your customers trust you to get them through the tough times, they’ll trust you even more during prosperous times.
Disney Lesson #1: On three separate occasions, I was surveyed by Disney employees and asked to provide feedback on wait times for park attractions, cleanliness of hotel grounds and my overall experience. The surveys were quick and easy, and I was directed to a website where I could see the survey results and feedback from other respondents. It was clear to me that my observations and opinions mattered.
Listen to your clients. Do more than ask questions, listen to the answers. Your customers are your best barometer, and you need to trust them to tell you how you are doing. Don’t just listen to positive feedback, but also neutral and even negative feedback. Accept constructive criticism and come to terms with the fact that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. The best way to deal with unhappy customers is to let them know you acknowledge their pain points, and are attempting to do something to resolve them. Social media provides a great platform for listening to conversations that people are having about your company and your brand. Tapping into and monitoring those conversations can provide you with valuable customer and industry insights.
Disney Lesson #2: From my first phone call to a reservation representative to hotel check-out, every communication I had with Disney made it clear they wanted to hear what I had to say — good, bad and other. In fact, at the end of most telephone calls, guests are asked to stay on the line to complete a quick survey.
Engage your clients. Whether it’s old-school networking and business lunches or tweeting and keeping in touch via Facebook, it’s imperative to stay connected to your customers and build relationships with them. Few people could name a more powerful, globally recognized brand than Disney, but brand loyalty is not something even they take for granted. Social media presents new opportunities to engage your customers, and few companies have embraced and been as successful with their social media endeavours as Disney has.
Disney Lesson #3: From the Disney Parks Blog to the Disney Moms Panel, it’s clear that customers are looking to organizations to help them make decisions and purchases. And for those of you who think engagement is not tied to an organization’s bottom line, think again. Many socially engaged companies are in fact more financially successful.
Learn from your clients. You’ve heard their praises and complaints. You’ve seen what they will recommend to others, and what they think “doesn’t work.” Now it’s time to put that into action. Product enhancements and innovation — much of this should come from hearing what your clients have to say about your company’s room for improvement and how you can help them meet their goals and satisfy their needs. Take their suggestions and criticisms and make them work.
Disney Lesson #4: Not every company can replicate in size and scope the Disney Imagineering program, but we can all learn lessons in what our customers want, and how we can better deliver that to them.
Embedded into Markewire’s corporate culture is excellence in customer service. At every turn, from assisting our clients with press release distribution to helping them understand the value behind social media and SEO-enhanced news, we understand that our own success depends on our clients’ success.