How to Kick your Customer Service up a Notch

March 18, 2016


After attending a Disney Institute workshop on excellence in customer service, a few things came to light. To backtrack a minute, I should first explain what the Disney Institute is. It is a branch of the massive Disney Corporation that travels around the world and presents their five branches of philosophies to business, corporations and individuals. Their list of five includes: employee engagement, business excellence and customer service. They use their own rules, terms and examples to show how they have excelled in those areas. Like most workshops, they offer and help you work through worksheets and exercises to determine your own ideas and wording.

The first thing I learned is that you can make up your own rules, if you want to. No one says you need to use the same terms, logic or process as anyone else. Make your own. Disney has made up their own terms and even their own words for everything. Architected and overmanage were the first two of the day, with many more being introduced after that. They want to do things differently and to change the norms. So why would they follow someone else’s lead? It’s a good point.

The second thing that struck me is that in order to deliver exceptional service you need a way to measure whether you are succeeding in that area or not. With smaller teams, it’s easier but as soon as you grow, even a bit, you need a way to make those standards known to all and you need to repeat, coach and monitor them every day. This is where quality standards comes into play. Every business should have four to five quality standards that you live by and everyone understands the expectations of. They are defined as operating priorities that guide your team and the consistency of your customers’ experiences. Everyone should be trained to make quality decisions based on those standards, all with the underlying understanding of the common purpose of the organization they define.

Once you have the standards, you need to be able to define them with a behaviour/action that will prove they are being put into practice. As stated at the start, they need to be repeatable, coachable and have a clear hierarchy to them. What order do your standards fall into? Does efficiency trump safety? Does organization trump kindness? You decide the rules, the order, and then make sure everyone understands the expectation.


At this point, I think it is important to state that all of this information is designed and driven around emotional connection with your brand. Some people understand this idea like it is second nature, others don’t. For all of this to really sink in, you need to understand this concept. In the Disney world, they define it as this: “The power of service lies in its ability to create an emotional connection, rather than a purely rational connection. And, emotional connection leads to economic outcomes.” You create stronger bonds with your customer regarding how he/she FEELS about your organization. It is not about rationally convincing people to do certain things. (They follow their gut anyway in the end). Real emotional connection leads to real economic outcomes. Read more about the results here.

Intermission over

Always aim for perfection, not excellence. This really hit home for me, as it makes perfect sense when you see the bell curve of where all businesses want to be. Most want more great experiences. The next biggest portion is good or excellent, with the least businesses aiming for poor. But if you don’t aim for perfection, then you will always end up with less than that. So aiming for great most of the time, means you will only be good. And good definitely isn’t good enough!

Go the extra inch, not the extra mile. When talking to your team don’t encourage them to go the extra mile, as a mile is a long ways to go. But instead tell them to go the extra inch. That seems more attainable, manageable and within grasp. It means they just need to look for a series of little things that will make a big difference in the end. It’s the concept of DO BIG SMALL THINGS. The small things all add up to be big stuff.

The last message, which really hit home for me, was that your team can be OFF TASK if they are ON PURPOSE. Meaning that being too focused on people just doing their job, within their job description, is a poor way to manage culture and therefore customer service. If your team understands the overarching common purpose or mantra of your business, and something comes up that means they need to leave their task to work on the vision of the higher purpose, then that is the ultimate goal. That is the thinking we want from all members of our team.

Customer service is an overused and under utilized idea that really has process, people and purpose behind it. If you spend the time to systemize that concept, it will have real results for your business. If you are looking to learn more about this, and like the directions mentioned here, then check out the Disney Institute.

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