Is Your Agency the “Happiest Place on Earth?”

Mickey and Minnie Mouse, twirling teacups, fireworks, Space Mountain and Cinderella. These are just a few of the memorable attractions you’ll find at the happiest place on earth – Walt Disney World. The dream of visiting this magical theme park is a wish that thousands children, and adults (guilty as charged!), around the globe hope to come true. And for those of us lucky enough to visit this imagination wonderland, the memories linger sweetly for a lifetime.

What is it about Disney World that makes it so extraordinary? Is it the rides, like Space Mountain and Rockin’ Roller Coaster? Or is it seeing all of your favorite characters, such as Buzz Lightyear, Arielle, or Anna and Elsa from Frozen? Maybe it’s all of the delicious meals at the park’s five-star restaurants? Or the spectacular themed resorts?

According to 20-year Disney executive Dennis Snow, it’s none of those. Yes, people love the rides and seeing their beloved Disney stars. But that’s not what keeps them coming back, said Snow, author of “Lessons from the Mouse: A Guide for Applying Disney World’s Secrets to Your Organization, Your Career, and Your Life.” “When Disney customers are asked about loyalty, they tend to say little about the rides.” The key to Disney’s success, he said, is creating the ultimate customer experience.

Snow counsels industry and organization leaders on how to generate repeat business and keep constituents happy. Serving fellow citizens lies at the heart of the public sector, thus public officials should strive to generate positive customer experiences.

In a recent webinar with customer service platform Zendesk, Snow revealed Disney’s best practices for creating long-lasting customer loyalty. See what your organization can learn from the happiest place on earth with these 3 keys to success:

  1. Perform with a relationship mindset, not a task mindset.

    Your organization may do tasks with efficiency, but you don’t want your clients to feel processed. Instead, have your employees focus on building a relationship and making customers feel valued. Snow shared an example of a Disney employee operating the queue at one of the park’s attractions. When she attempted to move the guests to make space in the line, customers began “moo-ing” in response. The guests felt as if they were being treated as cattle, instead of valued customers. This experience was a turning point for the employee to change her task mindset to a relationship mindset.

    Snow recommends service mapping. Much like process or journey mapping – where you diagram and analyze any process you want to get better at – look at each step of an experience with your organization through the lens of the customer.

  2. Pay attention to the details. Everything speaks.

    Every detail either enhances your brand or detracts from it,” said Snow. This includes details beyond the physical space or entity, beyond cleanliness, beyond curb appeal. Pay special attention to employee attitudes and the user-friendliness of your services and products. Appearance is important, too. Snow described the negative impact of “visual intrusions” such as a Pepsi can sitting within the well-manicured flowerbeds outside of a hospital. The lone soda can detracts the customers’ attention away from the service being provided.

    Snow advises creating a list of your organization’s “non-negotiables.” Make a list of the top 10 features that make up your brand, whether it is performing a service, to keeping a clean lobby at your office. Every employee must make a commitment to fulfill these non-negotiables and minimize distracters.

  3. Create moments of Wow

    The littlest moments can have often have the biggest impact. As an organization it is paramount to capitalize on small incidents of impeccable service. “Little wows have a cumulative effect,” Snow noted. While one may not have a huge impact, they will add up over time and create a positive memorable experience.

To further show how to take your customer service model to the next level, Snow referenced a Gallup study that derived a hierarchy of customer expectations.

The first level is accuracy. You must make sure that your organization is doing its job correctly, or else you will not gain repeat customers. Next is availability. Are your services, products and employees available when customers need them? Partnership can only be established after your organization successfully demonstrates accuracy and availability. You must establish trust with your customers for them to consider your organization as their partner. The highest level of service is advice. Customers feel the strongest bond to organizations that have helped them solve their problems, taught them a skill, or educated them on a topic.

Snow noted that it is critical to treat these four levels as a hierarchy. “The bottom two parts get you in the game, and the top two set you apart,” he said.

At your organization’s next team meeting, sprinkle a little Disney magic on your customer service model. Identify service behaviors at each of the hierarchy levels that demonstrate excellence for your organization. Engage a relationship mindset, focus on the details, and strive to create moments of wow. Your agency may not be the happiest on earth, but hopefully your customers will be.

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