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Give the customer a voice
A recovery Story from Disney

by Jackie & Kevin Freiberg

I recently met John Nolan up in Montreal at a SAS User’s Group Conference. John is the vice president of planning at MCI and he told me about an experience at Disney World that made a lasting impression on him. On a go-cart track at Disney, John’s daughter got bumped from behind. While there were no serious injuries, she was apparently a bit shaken. John informed the operator of the ride who immediately escorted John and his family to the general manager of the park. The GM conveyed his dismay and apologized for an incident that obviously impaired the family’s “moment of magic.”

At the end of the day when John and his family got back to their room they found it filled with balloons, stuffed animals and other fun things from Disney. An unexpected, yet pleasant surprise.

John was impressed enough to send a note to the general manager and thanked him for the gesture. Several weeks later the GM wrote back asking John for permission to share his note with all of the park managers at Disney World.

Now Disney did several things worth noting:
  • They responded immediately.
    The operator of the ride showed his genuine concern by immediately elevating the situation to the general manager. Sometimes it takes more than “I’ll inform management” to show you care.
  • They took it personally.
    The GM got engaged. Rather than reading a complaint from a faceless guest after the fact, the GM got personally involved. He felt their concern and showed his own in return.
  • They did the unexpected.
    The GM took the initiative to create a new positive experience that replaced the old negative one. The story John told me reflected his endearment to Disney.
  • They gave the guest the opportunity to influence the system.
    This is the biggie! John knew that his voice had been heard. Most of us stop registering complaints because we are absolutely convinced that it will have no impact whatsoever on the company. When was the last time you personally showed a customer what kind of impact their feedback had on you and your company? How many times have you checked out of a hotel room only to get the perfunctory, “How was everything?” from the receptionist, knowing from their tone and lack of eye contact that they really weren’t all that interested? When something goes wrong the customer wants to know they’ve been heard, and in hearing you will make positive changes in your organization.
John is now an evangelisitc guest who is telling Disney's story.

Give me (the customer) an opportunity to truly influence you (the service provider and product maker) and you may find that I am more of a fan than I was before the problem occurred. John told me this Disney story and now I am telling you. Word travels fast.

Copyright Jackie & Kevin Freiberg. All Rights Reserved.

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