Northeast Indiana is Using the Disney Institute’s Approach to Quality Service

By: Ashley Miller on June 14th, 2018

Back in January, I was given the opportunity to travel to Orlando, Fla. to attend the Disney Institute’s Approach to Quality Service professional development course. As a lifetime self-proclaimed Disney expert and enthusiast, you can imagine my excitement; not only was I going to the happiest place on earth, but I was going to learn from the best in the business. My passion not only lies in Disney, but also in customer service. Spending most of my adult life working in various customer service jobs, I naturally found a knack for serving people, and enjoying it.

Before I dive straight into the details of the Disney Institute, I will provide some information on why I was given this opportunity and how it pertains to the Regional Partnership. As the Stakeholder Engagement & Experience Manager, my job at the Regional Partnership is to lead and curate the Regional Partnership experience by identifying solutions to inefficient processes and workflows and inspire team members to go the distance to give our customers a top-notch experience.

For us, our customers are our stakeholders. Our stakeholders are those partners we work with on a day-to-day basis. This can include our Regional Opportunities Council, Vision 2030 committee members, public sector partners and so on.

Walt Disney World is known for exceeding expectations in all areas, and coincidentally enough exceeding expectations is one the core values the Regional Partnership strives for every day. With the knowledge I gained at my week at the Disney Institute, I hope to create a customer experience that our staff will live out daily and our stakeholders will appreciate.  

Intentionality is a key driver for Walt Disney World. They have learned to be intentional where others may be unintentional; they do things purposefully and pay great attention to detail. This is why they are known for their exceptional guest experience. It starts with the word “guest.” Each and every patron who walks on to the Walt Disney World property is referred to as a guest, not a customer. This is just one detail that differentiates Disney from the others.

During my four-day Disney Institute training, we had classroom time where we learned and discussed different tactics and field experiences. The field experiences consisted of traveling to one of the four Disney Parks to see different elements of Disney’s customer service in action.

Disney Institute discussed three main areas, designing exceptional service, delivering exceptional service and service recovery each as many insights under their respective umbrellas. Below I will discuss some of my favorite insights.

The Service Story

The gradual decline in customer service has created opportunities for differentiation. This provides an incredible opportunity for organizations. Creating an emotional connection, along with a rational one, is powerful and can lead to economic outcomes. People who feel a genuine connection to an organization, staff member or mission are more likely to keep coming back which leads to higher profits.

Service is experienced in multiple moments over time. A customer could have multiple service moments within one single experience. This is where intentionality comes in. An organization must intentionally manage each moment in every experience so the customer walks away having a positive experience.

Designing Exceptional Service

  • Service is manifested in all areas of an organization. There is a common misconception that exceptional customer service begins and ends with frontline employees, when in reality there are multiple customer touch points throughout any given organization. A customer touch point is any medium that engages with the customer. This could be staff members, an initial phone call, a meeting, a website and so on. The Disney Institute drives home the importance of creating a touch point map to design a consistent customer experience organization-wide.

  • To deliver exceptional customer service, we must know the customer on a holistic level. It’s about creating a systemic process so staff members are not allowed to make assumptions. Disney uses the Compass Tool to determine a customer’s needs, wants, stereotypes and emotions to ensure each guest is treated as a VIP or Very Individual Person.

  • Quality standards will guide the consistency of an organization’s customer experience. Disney Institute facilitators encouraged the group to begin developing quality standards by thinking of words or phrases we thought our customers would use to describe an ideal experience in our organizations. Not only is creating quality standards important, but we must prioritize them. For example, Disney’s quality standards, often called The Four Keys, are safety, courtesy, show and efficiency.

Delivering Service

  • Delivering good service is not done by people alone but is derived from process, place, and people. A good customer service strategy cannot be delivered without aligning these three areas.

  • Organizations need to select people with a heart for service and then train them. Without training service-oriented people, staff can improvise which leads to a lack of consistency.

  • Employers need to genuinely care not only about their customers but about their people. A service strategy could be exceptional but if it focuses only externally, it could lead to failure because external service mirrors internal service.

Service Recovery

  • Service recovery is just as crucial as designing and delivering service; it needs to be intentionally designed and not improvised.

  • The heart of service recovery is to pursue mending the relationship, rather resolving the problem. If a service failure occurs, the recovery process is as or more important than the outcome.

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership is now implementing this model within our organization to fulfill our mission to build, market and sell the region to increase business investment. However, this model can be implemented a number of different organizations. So, how can Disney’s Approach to Quality Service help your organization? For questions or additional information, contact Stakeholder Engagement & Experience Manager Ashley Spranger.