It is the final week before I reapply to the Happiness Engineer position At Automattic! I want to send a big “Thank you!” to all those who have been following my blog this far. And if you’ve just stumbled across this site, please checkout My Introduction to find out what this site is all about.
Today, I am going to write a short review on another customer support book I read.
Be Our Guest
Perfecting the Art of Customer Service
Disney Institute with Theodore Kinni
Disney and Quality Service
One company that stands out in my mind as having great customer service (other than Automattic, that is??) is Disney. Having personally visited Tokyo Disney Resort a dozen times and heard countless stories from others who have been to other Disney theme parks around the world, I have yet to find someone who has had a lousy customer service experience there. Disney can’t be perfect, they have had to have some service breakdowns in the past somewhere. But either they are too rare or they cover these incidents up really well, because I have never heard any negative stories before. Ever!
I have always been intrigued as to how Disney Resorts do this. I reckoned there must be a secret formula they have mastered that specifically applies to the Theme Park industry. So, I was intrigued, to say the least, when I found this book by them. To be honest, I thought reading their secrets would ruin my image of them and my Disney experiences from here on would be different. But at the same time, I wanted to know what their secret was.
I was pleasantly surprised when I found that their success to customer service was really nothing unique. All it was was a company that had prioritised customer satisfaction in their business practices from the very beginning of their existence. They not only claimed that customer service was important to them, but they have systematically and consistently practiced this in all ranks of their company.
I was equally surprised when I found their philosophy to customer service was not theme-park-specific. What they taught and practiced was actually applicable to every type of business in the service industry. I could apply it to my customer service work, too! And it all boiled down to a simple diagram of a compass.
The Quality Service Compass
Disney’s service objective is to “exceed guest expectations” – they do not merely fulfill them, but exceed them. They accomplish this using the four points of the compass.
“Guestology” refers to their study and understanding of customers. To exceed customer expectations, they must first understand what those expectations are. The book mentions on a number of occasions how Disney never stops learning from their customers. As time goes by, technology advances, markets change and customer expectations evolve, too. Just like the first sentence of the Automattic creed, Disney, too, has determined to keep learning.
“Quality Standards” are what determine the course of action to
fulfill exceed the customer expectations as determined through Guestology. They also become the evaluation criteria for service quality. The book explains the Disney quality standards are safety, courtesy, show and efficiency – in that order. I believe most companies would probably have efficiency (specifically financial efficiency) prioritized further up in their quality standards. Putting show before efficiency seems rather counterintuitive. But the book explains this is part of how Disney has come to acquire the loyalty of its customers and continue to provide quality service.
“Delivery Systems” are the means through which the quality standards and delivered to exceed customer expectations. The book explains every company has the same three delivery systems – cast (the people of the company), setting (the environment of the company) and process.
And the final point on the compass, “Integration”, is combining the three delivery systems in a company’s pursuit of their service strategy. The book concludes by giving practical examples of how a company can evaluate each of the delivery systems against each of the quality standards in light of customer expectations as studied through guestology.
In a sense, all Disney has done is they have verbalised their goals, their standards and their systems. They have refined these and consciously merged them all together in their company philosophies and practices. They have actively worked to implement and evaluate their operations using their “compass”, giving them a stable and common goal through which to expand and grow in every area of their business. In short, they have been disciplined in their company practices and that has lead them to deliver great customer service.
So you see, what Disney has done isn’t really anything special. They have done what every company should do. And that is why they aren’t afraid to expose their service “secrets” with everyone, because they aren’t really secrets at all! If nothing else, this book gave me a new admiration for the Disney company and for the consistent service quality they produce every time I interact with them, through disciplined application of their company standards.