Become the Customer Service Category

Walt Disney World Steam Train
Roy O. Disney

Lead the category or be the category?

Striving to lead your industry isn’t entirely bad if you’re ok with waiting for someone else to beat you to the next breakthrough.

Why does that sound ridiculous?

Why is it important?

Because some ridiculously important (some would say game-changing) events have happened, are happening now, and will continue to happen.

It’s called disruption for a reason.

It’s not unrealistic to expect disruptions will be bigger and more frequent.

Customers are increasingly more worldly, more sophisticated, more educated, and more discerning.

Competitors are increasingly more determined, more cunning, and more successful at leveraging technology to understand their customers (and yours) and scale solutions you’ve never thought of.

The basic function is simple; give your customers more than they expect.

The real challenge in customer service is what we universally call “customer satisfaction”. Literally everyone measures CSI, Customer Satisfaction Index, or Patient Satisfaction.

Are we truly satisfied measuring satisfaction?

Think about it.

Satisfaction is dangerous.

Customers are up for grabs when they feel no emotional attachment to a brand. Our goal at Disney is to exceed Guest expectations, not meet them. We don’t aim for satisfaction, we aim for “wow”.

None of us say, “Wow, that was really satisfying.”

To get us to, “Wow, that was amazing.”, we need to exceed expectations.

So waiting for the next big customer service approach can destroy an organization (and sometimes an industry).

What we are always aiming for at Disney is creating a new approach, one that pushes us into a category no one else can touch. Relentlessly surprise and delight customers. When done consistently and over time, you create a brand that drives competitive immunity and has your competition scrambling to catch you.

And while they are trying to catch up, you are working on the next big thing.

Remember how the music industry let Napster reinvent music file sharing?

Music executives got blind-sided.

As if that wasn’t enough, the music industry never saw a computer company coming either.

Apple, iPod, iTunes, and now, Apple Music.

Apple is a category of one.

The music industry had their chance to become the category.

Kodak had their chance too, but they held so tightly to film, they suffocated themselves.

How does this train of thought affect Disney Customer Service?

Simple, we believe the road to excellence has no finish line. We devote our careers to finding ever more effective ways to have every Guest feel like a VIP – Very Individual Person.

Early in my career Malvina Alk, our Area Manager at Disney’s Contemporary Resort Front Desk, reminded everyone not to gawk at celebrities. She also reinforced our policy of never asking a celebrity for an autograph or a photo.

Contemplate this, do all your employees make all your customers feel like Royalty?

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By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.