Tag Archives: The Disney Institute

Disney World Delivers ‘ Literally – All the Way to the Airport! Discovering that my coin purse was missing on the final morning of the NACCM Conference was not a great way to start the day. A few dollars and credit cards were concerns, but my Texas Driver’s License was needed for identification to board the airplane that afternoon. I started retracing my steps to no avail. You know the scene, patting down your pockets, looking in your purse, checking under the bed, tearing the room apart and then starting all over again. I went to the front desk and Marva was extremely helpful as she offered to check lost-and-found and call me within the hour. Long story short, nothing showed up but Southwest Airlines consoled me with the information that I could make the flight but to allow extra time to go through security. While waiting for the Magic Express to the airport, I checked the front desk one more time and Joey listened carefully to my plight. He began filling out a form and handed it to me ‘ a complimentary taxi to the airport so I could arrive without any delays. This generous gesture and comfortable ride calmed down my flustered demeanor and first-hand showed me the exemplary customer service for which Disney is known. Disney Institute facilitator, Jack Santiago, shared how symbols such as the Big Ears and the Magic Castle represent the heritage, culture and values of Disney. The quality excellence of their cast of stars is demonstrated in all the gift stores, restaurants, hotel front desks, grounds, and rides. The selection and training process really works. From the onset, Disney’s applicants are informed about the culture and the non-negotiable standards. Disney’s intent on hiring for attitude and not aptitude is common advice that I give my clients. Disney also state that regardless of the level of schooling, Disney can train for 90% of the jobs but cannot train to have a good attitude.By the time I made a smooth taxi trip to the airport, navigated through Southwest and security with little disruption, I knew that a little Disney Magic had worked. I applaud Disney because a fairy Godmother and Prince Charming are needed in everyone’s life during difficulties. Thank you, Marva Davis and Joey Lel.Connie BrubakerIntegrity Training Solutionswww.ConnieBrubaker.com

Red Carpet? Not exactly . . .

My appointment is made for the hair stylist, clothing is selected for a great first impression, flight and hotel reservations are made, and the celebrity list is out-of-sight. Just in case you are thinking that I am headed to Nashville to attend the Country Music Awards on Wednesday night, that is not the reason for my state of mind. Next week, I am attending the 2011 NACCM Conference in Orlando on November 13 – 16. I love to speak, write, train and think about customer service and the opportunity to learn from experts in a wide array of industries fills me with delight. I look forward to hearing the stories of creating magical moments for customers from this high-profile celebrity list and many more:
Peter Guber, Author of Tell to Win
Jamie Noughton, Zappos
Jasmine Green, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company
Pete Winemiller, NBA Oklahoma City Thunder
Fred Taylor, Jr. Southwest Airlines
Mike Sachs, Volkswagen of America, Inc.
Gina Debogovich, Best Buy
Kelly N. Cook, DSW Designer Show Warehouse
Okay, so I’m not talking about singing stars like Taylor Swift & Toby Keith that entertain audiences with musical notes. I am talking about experts that can teach companies how to keep from hitting a sour note with a client that can impact customer satisfaction, loyalty and the bottom line.
Even with 32 years of customer service experience, I always look forward to hearing fresh ideas and renewing commitment to give my clients the latest and greatest information.
Who do you think will be the entertainer of the year, I mean conference? Please share with me your favorite performances. I hope to see you in Orlando.
Connie Brubaker
Integrity Training Solutions
512 346 7270
Building People, Productivity and Profits with Integrity

People Management, Disney Style

Today while on the NACCM Customer’s 1st facebook page I came across this white paper from our Facebook friends Disney Institute on the popular topic of People Management.

The paper is very interesting in that it tracks how Disney sets expectations for employees from even before day one, and then follows through with training, reinforcement and rewards to keep the “cast” operating smoothly. For example, in describing the hiring processes at Disney, they acknowledge that the company culture may not be for everyone, and that it is in fact better to give potential employees the chance to self-select out before entering into the company

“Early in the process, candidates can view a film depicting what it is like to work at Disney. The film also communicates conditions of employment. After viewing it, a small percentage of candidates self’select out of the process. This is a good thing, since those candidates might not be “right fit” for the culture’and Disney might not be right’fit for them. This process not only saves time and money, but it leaves the applicants feeling good about themselves and our company.”

Another great quote that struck me from the article was the following “When your staff sees the big picture, they also see how vital their roles are in the business.” Indeed communicating the importance of small roles to the larger goals of the company can both motivate employees towards exceptional service, and inspire greater teamwork and compliance with company policies.

So what does all this say about customer service? Generally, Disney Institute has found that happy, inspired employees are more likely to provide great customer experiences.

“We’ve found over and over that if an employee feels truly valued in his or her job, if they understand what is expected of them and feel they are contributing, they will go above and beyond to deliver great service.”

It’s all about setting expectations, training, and finally recognizing and rewarding excellence. Read the whole paper here.

NACCM 2010: The Business Behind the Magic of Disney’s Chain of Excellence: Leadership, People Management, Quality Service, and Loyalty

Presented by: Mike Reardon, DISNEY INSTITUTE

What is the business model behind Disney? They made sure they could verify it. They have a chain of excellence: Leadership Excellence, Cast Excellence, Guest Satisfaction, Financial Results/Repeat Business. Key metrics: metrics to return and intent to tell others. If you don’t start out with great leaders, you’ll never achieve the great results your companies capable of.
Two keys to creativity at Disney:
-Everyone is creative
-Keep identities separate from idea

Keep creativity open. Why? You never know what’s going to come of them. What do cruise lines and Disney have to do with each other? Nothing. But give families a reason to travel. They are doubling the size of their fleet in the current economy. They expanded their ‘box’ and made their realm bigger.

Pirates of the Caribbean started as a ride. They then turned it into a movie, premiered it in a park. Everyone went to the ride looking for Jack Sparrow. Since then, Disney has updated and added Jack to the ride and expanded it to include more from the Caribbean.
The leader and relationships at Disney: responsibility, commitment, and inspiration. Every leader is telling a story about what he/she values. We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.

Walt sold his vision from moving the movies to an interactive theme park. He told his story, and set up his organization for success. True leaders are collaborators. Leaders look for reasons to change.

NACCM 2009: Leading Through Turbulent Times – Disney Institute

Leading Through Turbulent Times – Disney Institute, presented by Bruce Kimbrell

Disney starts of with a video that shows how they go about preparing the park every day for the maximum enjoyment of their customers. PPIR’s in the Disney Institutes’s box – to encourage audience participation! Kimbrell has had 27 years of experience in Disney parks. Everyday should be a prep day for turbulent times. If it’s important, if it has value, every day should be.

In the 24 Disney hotels from coast to coast, they experience 95% occupancy year round. This all has to do with the cast they have. They know what their guests are coming for. They treat every guest as if they’re important.

Leadership excellence came from leaders who were willing to listen. Listening is an art and talent, few people have the talent. There were many leadership challenges from the 1960s on, after both of the Disney brothers died.
Communicate the vision. How they did it at Walt Disney:
-Create a shared and meaningful purpose
-Inspire passion and interest
-Guide decision making and strategy
-Convey values
Core competencies at Disney are how clean the park is and how friendly the people are.

What Disney did to improve their brand:
- Refocus on core competencies
- Refined brand, mission and product offerings
- Solidify corporate culture
Refocus your culture to demonstrate appropriate behaviors of:
-Language and symbols
-Cultural values
-Traits and behaviors
Listen to your front line which is your bottom line. Key factor that Disney relies on for communicating with their customers. Example: A Pub in the park was continually asked if they sold fish and chips. A cast member took a tally of the individuals who asked for Fish and Chips, so they created a shop where customers could buy fish and chips, which now brings in $3 million a month. The leader listened, and was rewarded as a result.

Customer Loyalty: Pre-Conference Summit

Cross-post from Customers Rock! by Becky Carroll

Today was my second day here at the NACCM Customers 1st Conference, and it was filled with pre-conference summits and the official kick-off to the event by Kevin Carroll, author of Rules of the Red Rubber Ball. Here is an overview and some nuggets from Disney Institute, nGenera, JetBlue, and of course, Kevin. (Note – if you follow me on Twitter, you already have a taste of what went on at the summit!) Disney Loyalty The day started with Bruce Kimbrell from The Disney Institute who keynoted with a great speech on Disney and their keys to customer loyalty. Bruce asked a great question: Who are you loyal to and why? Some of the answers included the following:

  • Nordstrom – they treat you like you matter
  • Keen shoes – high quality product, and solid customer service if there is a problem
  • Sports team – get a sense of community
  • State Farm Insurance – they are there before the police!
  • Kroger Foods – great customer service experience

Each responder had their own reason for being loyal. Bruce shared that at Disney, they believe the greater the connection, the greater the loyalty! Relationships are built when two things happen:

  1. Customers want to associate with your brand beyond the transaction
  2. Your customers and employees interact positively with each other

Disney gets 80,000 people at their parks in one day. How do you positively interact with all of them? On average, each guest (Disney speak for customer) has 60 interactions with Disney cast members (employees) per day. This is 60 opportunities to make or break the experience; they are the face of Disney! If 59 are great, but number 60 is a jerk, what do I go home and talk about? Disney uses experience mapping to identify all points of contact with customers, look at the experience through the customers’ eyes, and then align Disney strengths to “moments of magic”. Key takeaway: plan it out! Identify and prioritize key opportunties in the customer experience, match specific tools to each opportunity, select partners to involve, then go make it happen! Thank you, Bruce, for all of your Disney insight. Swarming the Magic Kingdom I spent most of my day in this highly interactive activity, led by Frank Capek of nGenera (Don Tapscott’s company). He laid the foundation for the day by discussing the next generation customer experience. In other words, with the potential for collaboration found in social media (such as blogs, wikis, social networks, YouTube, etc), how can we enable customers to actively co-create their own experiences? This isn’t experience by intent (improving service levels) or experience by design (creating based on customer needs and priorities) but experience on demand (engage and co-create). After talking about this for awhile, Frank set us loose in Disneyland to take a closer look at what customer experiences are taking place there – down to the smallest detail. We rode rides, analyzed Main Street USA, and listened to Christmas music being aired in the park. We observed what it felt like to be a first-timer, what it felt like to stand in line, and how easy/difficult it was to get around the park. At the end of the day, we came back together and used our collective thinking to brainstorm ideas around not just improved customer experiences, but specifically how customer experiences could be different for those who are “digitally connected” (especially young people who live on social networks). Ideas included the following:

  • “Log in” at the park to learn about wait times in lines, get a personalized experience
  • Have Disney “follow you” around the park (opt-in, of course) via your mobile phone or simply your park ticket (inserted at various attractions) to log your activities and create a “storybook” of your day that could be emailed/link sent to you. You could even opt to have your log update your Facebook or MySpace status throughout the day, sharing your experience with your friends.
  • Using texting/Twitter to share issues with Disney in real-time

It was a great session to get out in the sunshine, look at things from a different perspective, then take and apply it back to our own companies: Walk in your customers’ shoes. Innovate the customer experience. Don’t forget social media! JetBlue and “Jetitude” Rob Maruster, Senior VP of Customer Service at JetBlue held a great session to share how they are bringing humanity back to air travel through servant leadership. Here are some tidbits:

  • JetBlue administers 35 customer surveys each flight (regardless of how full they are); 8% of customers give their feedback (a decent response rate)
  • They use Net Promoter Score (NPS), rather than just customer satisfaction, to gauge how well they are performing and look for opportunities for improvement. It seems to be directly correlated to whether they are running flights on time in a particular month!
  • If something doesn’t go as planned, JetBlue invokes their Customer Bill of Rights and, within 7 days of the flight, they send out flight vouchers to help make up for the inconvenience. “Please, let us try again!”
  • You have to be relevant to customers in order to drive customer loyalty.

I liked the way Rob shared about JetBlue’s customer-focused thinking as he discussed one of the key inputs to their Balanced Scorecard: Drive a Low Cost Culture. He was quick to point out that it is important to be smart about costs, but not to be cheap! “Don’t touch the things that touch the customer.” Great motto, Rob! Rob also talked about their JetBlue attitude, or “jetitude”. They have five “Be’s”:

  1. Be in Blue always (you are always on stage – see my related post!)
  2. Be personal
  3. Be the answer (don’t pass the buck; execs, please walk the talk)
  4. Be engaging (reach out to customers; don’t wait for them to come to you)
  5. Be thankful to every customer (actually thank them for their business)

Finally, Rob talked about the importance of “servant leadership”. Leadership brings all of the above together to serve the employee and, in turn, the customer. They need total transparency, and they need to be willing to get their hands dirty in order to help make it happen. Great talk, Rob! Oh, by the way, JetBlue collected business cards from everyone in the summit and gave away 2 JetBlue travel vouchers! Wow! Great way to show appreciation. The Red Rubber Ball Kevin Carroll opened the official conference at day’s end with his inspiring speech on the importance of play. Per Kevin,

“Play is serious business!”

Kevin encouraged all of us to harness the power of sport and play in everything we do – including our jobs. What inspires you? For Kevin, a simple red, rubber ball (like a playground ball) inspired him to live differently, with purpose, passion, and intention. In fact, he has an amazing life story that took him from a difficult childhood to the military, the NBA, to Nike, and ultimately to being a speaker/author who helps others reach for their dreams. He is a life-long learner, and he shared his “lessons from the playground”:

  1. Commit to it (find what you are passionate about and commit to it)
  2. Seek out encouragers (surround yourself with people who give you permission to dream big)
  3. Work out your creative muscle (need to reawaken our creative side)
  4. Prepare to shine (create your vision, make it clear)
  5. Speak up (stand up for something, what you believe in)
  6. Expect the unexpected (be forever curious, you never know where you will end up!)
  7. Maximize the day (live each day to the fullest – don’t try to get to tomorrow too soon)

Kevin was inspiring, entertaining, and unpredictable. He even tossed out balls into the audience and shared a video of playing “tag” at Nike – with 4,000 coworkers! He challenged us to get the most we can out of each day, as well as out of this conference. After his talk, Yemil Martinez (Director of New Media for the conference) and I had the opportunity to video Kevin’s discussion with Joanna Brandi, conference co-chair, as they discussed the future of this country and how play can help. I will upload that video later this week. Kevin then freely gave me a nice gift for my older son to encourage him to find his passion in life. Thank you, Kevin! Kevin was also nice enough to give me two minutes of his time to share his thoughts with my Customers Rock! readers (and you) on the importance of building community with customers. Thank you so much for your time and energy, Kevin! We will be following you. (Photo credit: nruboc)

Making Magic Every Day – Lessons from the Disney Institute

“Service is tough, ” so said Bruce Kimbrell our facilitator from the Disney Institute.

Yep. But the way Bruce talks about service makes it infinitely fascinating and fun!We got the basics on loyalty you would expect. Lifetime value. Know your markets. The relation of the employee’s satisfaction with the experience of the customer. But there was so much more…

Some takeaways from Bruce’s delightful talk:

  • “I just work here.” The enemy of customer loyalty is the company where “the rules” are a disincentive to customer satisfaction and the culture is “we just follow the rules.”
  • “What little bump does it take to notice service?” Disney pays attention to the details.
  • Loyal customers feel ownership of the brand, “it becomes part of how they send messages about themselves.”
  • “Seamless process – start to finish.” This is a favorite of mine. Thinking about what happens before, during, and after each individual transaction gets at the whole customer experience.
  • Why do customers leave? Bruce’s answer. It’s the “Yeah, what?”…the “you’re bothering me” look from a service person communicates “I don’t care.”
  • Then there was a real life letter from a customer with accompanying pictures of their stay in Disney World. “Thank you for adding magic to our stay.” Wow. A housekeeper moves Mickey around, posing him differently each day when she cleans the room and a grandchild experiences a vacation she will remember fondly – forever. You could hear the “awww’s” fromt he audience at the last photo of Mickey at the window…waiting for the family to return to the room.
  • The challenge? “Once you have bumped it, that becomes the new level, the new expectation.”
  • Identity – Value- Relationships…these in balance build great loyalty.
  • Experience Mapping – way cool. Disney uses these to break down the elements of value and see what drives the quality of every experience. For each they define what would meet and what would exceed expectations. The goal is to exceed.
  • “What do you want to be known for, then make that connection at every point.”
  • And there was that clip at the end with the girl dancing with a cast member. I teared up, more than just a bit. ‘We have the opportunity to make magic every day.’ Yep.

Thanks, Bruce, for an inspiring journey into the magic of Disney service.

Disney Service Discovery

This posting by conference blogger Becky Carroll is cross-posted both on the Customers 1st blog as well as on Becky’s blog Customers Rock!

Looking to learn more about what it takes to give great customer service? Look no further than Disney! I am here at the NACCM Customers 1st Conference being held at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, and today the event kicked-off in style. I chose the ‘Disney’s Service Challenge’ pre-conference workshop, led by Bruce Kimbrell of The Disney Institute. This workshop focused on teamwork and taking care of employees (a critical part of taking care of customers is to take care of employees!). Bruce is also the keynote speaker tomorrow at the Pre-Conference Summit talking about ‘Loyalty Disney Style’. Today, Bruce invited us to spend several hours discovering the service opportunities that Disney gives to their guests in ‘Pluto’s Pursuit’. I took the challenge, along with about 30 other attendees. Bruce started us off with a great ice-breaker activity, with the promise of a PPR (positive plastic reinforcer – in this case, a small plastic statuette of Pluto). He had seven of us get into a circle and toss a ball back and forth in a set pattern. He then kept adding balls to the mix until we finally fell apart, balls flying all over the room! It was a great way to start talking about teamwork as well as multitasking (something we obviously didn’t do well). We then talked about what the necessary ingredients are for a team; they included sharing a common goal, cooperation, and interdependence. (Customers Rock! note: great customer service organizations have highly efficient teams that operate on trust and work well together.) He also introduced the notion of different personal goals for different types of people one might find on a team, contrasting those who are motivated by achievement (goals – wanting to get to a ‘destination’ with the team) vs. those who are motivated by affiliation (friends and enjoying the journey to the goal). More on this later. We were then split up into teams and given a common goal to achieve in a 90-minute time period, a sort of ‘scavenger hunt’. We had to go into Disneyland Park and find answers to a long list of questions. Some of the questions had to do with cast member (Disney employee) behaviors; other questions were about signs it the park or park attractions. We also had 2 challenges we could attempt as a team (of the puzzle variety). Into the Park Off we went on our hunt, where we relied on each other to look for the details in everything from the cast members and their on-stage behaviors (no sitting or smoking while on-stage!), their uniforms (name badge, please, and be well groomed), as well as trivia questions (do you know how much the piece of petrified wood in Frontierland weighs?). We covered the entire theme park, from Fantasyland to Adventureland to New Orleans Square to Frontierland – and beyond! Interesting observation – we were so busy looking for our scavenger hunt items, we didn’t get to stop and enjoy the park. A few notes. All of the attendees at this conference are customer-focused, so when some of my teammates saw a woman at the park trying to navigate a curb with her stroller, four of them went over and helped her! That’s customer service. Also, Bruce is a veteran Disney guy; he has worked for them for nearly 30 years. As we were walking back to the conference from the theme park, he stopped and picked up every piece of trash he saw on the ground, throwing it away when he got the next trash can. He didn’t make a big deal of it; it just came naturally. I could see real pride in working at Disney. Team Success Factors When we returned, Bruce discussed more about the differences between the Destination teams and the Journey teams. We discovered that 3 of the 4 teams were ‘Destination’ teams and were all vying for the fabulous prizes offered. The fourth team was a ‘Journey’ team – they took their time, ate some food, did some shopping, and enjoyed their activity. One of the key areas we went over was employee rewards and recognitions. Bruce told a story about a long-time employee who had 32 years of perfect attendance. They decided to throw a big party for him to celebrate. He didn’t show up! Turns out he wasn’t comfortable with that kind of attention being showered on him, so he stayed home. The team had forgotten to find out what kind of recognition he might like; they just assumed he would want a party. Taking Care of Employees At Disney, they foster a culture of reward and recognition because that fosters other good things (like employee loyalty, which leads to great customer service). We need a little bit of that ‘destination’ mentality to get things done, but we need to balance it with the ‘journey’ mentality to make the job more fun! The Conference Nuggets Are Just Starting! I am blogging this conference, both on my blog Customers Rock! as well as on the Customers 1st Conference blog. During the sessions, I am not able to blog but will be updating you via Twitter; I am @bcarroll7, and the conference tag is #naccm. I am also posting any photos I take on the NACCM conference flickr group.