Systems: How Disney Provides Consistently Stellar Customer Service

In a previous post, I shared my family’s unbelievable experience with Disney Customer Service. You can read about our experience right here.  So how does Disney create stellar service?

Disney World

I recently read Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service by the Disney Institute. The book provides some great insight into the practical systems that drive uncommon service. Here’s a quick overview of the three ingredients that drive Disney’s service:

The Service Theme: Disney begins with a “Service Theme” which defines and communicates the purpose of the company and creates its public image. Disney’s Service Theme is: “We create happiness by providing the finest in entertainment for people of all ages, everywhere.” In essence, a service theme declares the company’s mission and how and for whom that mission is accomplished. Your service theme “acts as a promise to your customers and a purpose for your employees.”

The Service Standards: Service standards, or service values, are the “how” of the service theme. They are the “operational criteria” that make the consistent delivery of the service theme possible. Disney has four service standards:

  • Safety: Providing for the welfare and peace of mind of guests.
  • Courtesy: Treating every guest as a VIP–a very important, and very individual person.
  • Show: Seamless and exceptional entertainment for guests.
  • Efficiency: Smooth operations of the theme parks and resorts.

The Delivery Systems: You can have a service theme and understand your service standards, but without the right delivery systems, none of it will come together. Disney uses three delivery systems to provide safety, courtesy, show, and efficiency:

  • Cast: This is Disney-speak for “employees.”
  • Setting: Setting is described as, “The environment in which service is delivered to customers, all of the objects within that environment, and the procedures used to enhance and maintain the service environment and objects. More simply, setting is the stage on which business is conducted.”
  • Process: Processes are “a series of actions, changes, or functions that are strung together to produce a result.”  Processes include things like guest flow, communication, and service attention.

So how does this entire customer service system work together? The Service Theme is like true north. Again, it provides the promise for guests and the purpose for employees. To ensure the Service Theme is being accomplished, the Service Standards and Delivery Systems are incorporated into an Integration Matrix. In other words:

  • How does the CAST deliver Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency?
  • How does the SETTING deliver Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency?
  • How do the PROCESSES deliver Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency?

Below is an example of the Integration Matrix used with Disney Vacation Club. Across the top are the delivery systems (Cast, Setting, and Process) and along the left side are the service standards (Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency):

Training in property-wide and DVC safety techniques and policies
First response features; safe materials; emergency access
Traffic flow; cast response; evacuation plans

Build long-term relationships; be passionate about product; use performance tips
Umbrellas for guests; supervised playroom for children
One sales cast member per guest; no hard-sell techniques

Sales as an onstage performance; performance training
Your home away from home; interior design; themed treats
Leave with a good taste in your mouth; sweets as last step

Provide critical purchase information up front
Setting supports efficient guest flow; quiet, private room for closing
Quality assurance team member at commitment

Each part of Walt Disney World has an integration matrix that shows how service standards are delivered by the cast, setting, and processes.  If you want to learn more, check out Be Our Guest or the Disney Institute.

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Question:  What is missing in your organization–Service Theme, Service Standards, or Delivery Systems?  How can you improve each one?