One of the iconic areas of the Disney World theme park in Orlando, Florida, is Main Street USA, a quaint but fake downtown with a sprawling vista of Cinderella’s castle. If you’ve ever been there, you may have looked around after taking in the view. Maybe you ducked to a sitting area where the street dead-ends, and noticed, on a second-story window, a sign for a dance and voice studio. And if you listened closely, you may have heard music or tap dancing.
The sound design of that tiny, out-of-the-way area is an example of just how much effort Disney puts into the most minute details of its parks. In fact, there may be few tourist attractions on the planet where as much obsessive attention is paid to every last thing as at Disney theme parks, and that is very much a deliberate strategy on the part of the park’s management.
Part of that attention to detail is good customer service, and an outgoing, friendly crew of “cast members.” The company calls every employee a “cast member,” whether their job is as a costumed character or just serving fries in a cafeteria. The cast members are expected to improvise in the service of creating “Disney Magic.” For example, if you should find the beefcake Gaston from Beauty and the Beast roaming the park, and challenge him to a push-up contest, he will most likely beat you (as demonstrated in a viral video that has been viewed more than 9 million times.)
The way the company creates that service is one that the Disney Institute, the company’s corporate consulting arm, is more than happy to teach. The Disney Institute will present a program on Disney’s Approach to Quality Service on Tuesday, June 2, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the conference center of RWJ Fitness & Wellness in Hamilton. Call 609-924-1776 or visit www.princetonchamber.org. Individual tickets are $359 for members, $399 for nonmembers.
Bruce Jones, program director of the Disney Institute, says one of the cornerstones of Disney customer service is “overmanaging the touchpoints of the customer experience” (see sidebar). “Whenever a guest is coming into contact with us, we want to make that an extraordinary experience for them,” he says. “It’s treating people like guests rather than just another paying customer.” To be a bit more Disney-like in its customer service, and keep both employees and customers happy. “A listened-to cast member is a happy cast member,” he says. “And happy cast members create happy guests. And that creates a happy leader.”