by David Ham | August 01, 2017
With so much focus today on creating promoters and brand evangelists, it is critical to understand customers’ needs, and the types of experiences that drive such behavior. Here I am ten years later praising Disney because of an interaction with a grill cook, who was prepared to deliver a differentiated customer experience when he observed my moment of truth.
For many of us, summer brings thoughts of vacations and travel. I have been reflecting lately about some of the more memorable trips I have had, remembering that not all travel happens in the summer. While Michigan is beautiful this time of year, escaping it even briefly in the winter can be a wonderful thing.
One of those winter getaways involved a customer experience that has always stood out to me.
We were on a family trip to Disney World about ten years ago. As many of you know, Disney parks can be great places to visit with children but they can be crowded, and sometimes overwhelming with so many rides and attractions. My twins were grade-school age at the time. There was one particular day when it was getting late and the kids were hungry. Snickers has run humorous ads in recent years with the “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign, and we were living it out. We went to one of Disney World’s “quick service” restaurants in hopes of finding a fast and kid-friendly dinner.
I remember that the restaurant wasn’t very busy but the kids were hungry and over-tired, acting as kids do in that situation, and it is possible I wasn’t responding to them in the most constructive way. After ordering we were at the counter waiting for our food, the kids were anxious to eat, I was frustrated, and the situation was very tense when a cook looked up from behind the grill and started talking to us. The brief conversation went something like this:
Cook: Hey, kids, did you see my boss today?
Kids: (Blank confused stares)
Cook: Seriously, did you see my boss today?
Kids: (More blank confused stares)
Cook: Mickey Mouse is my boss. Everyone here works for Mickey Mouse. Did you see him today?
Kids: (Speaking tentatively) Yeah.
Cook: If you see him again, can you tell him I’m working hard cooking today and that I’m doing a good job?
Kids: Yeah. Ok.
With that brief encounter, the kids were completely refocused. They were no longer complaining to me. My stress level dropped.
At Disney World, we interacted with a lot of people in traditional customer-facing roles. They generally do a great job with both the parents and the kids. This gentleman was in a behind the scenes role, grilling burgers and chicken. He heard a frustrated parent dealing with two upset children. He intervened in a cordial way and completely defused the situation. Disney is famous for its customer service training. This was a great example of how it can work. This cook probably had a very limited amount of direct contact with customers, but he was seemingly trained and prepared to jump in and provide good service in a moment of truth for a customer.
As a customer, this was obviously a memorable experience for me. As a customer experience consultant, there are two reasons why this event has stuck with me. One reason is that Disney apparently took a very broad view of the customer journey. There were two primary customer touch points in this transaction, the first was the person taking the order and payment, and the second was the person delivering the food once prepared. This experience suggests there had been training for the third potential, albeit unlikely, touch point with the cook.
The other reason is that Disney understood who its customers are and what they need. They don’t want frustrated parents leaving the park, spending that dinner money elsewhere, and, importantly, telling their friends, relatives, neighbors, social media followers, etc. (i.e., future potential customers) about any advantages of leaving the park early. They also don’t want kids to be unhappy at a Disney park. In this scenario, the kids and I had different needs and this cook addressed both. With so much focus today on creating promoters and brand evangelists, it is critical to understand customers’ needs, and the types of experiences that drive such behavior. Here I am ten years later praising Disney because of an interaction with a grill cook, who was prepared to deliver a differentiated customer experience when he observed my moment of truth.
CFI Group can help your business understand what types of experiences will create promoters for you, by identifying the priorities and needs of your varied customer segments.