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Customer Service: A Thing of the Past?

The adage that a customer is always right isn't always a wrong approach. How businesses treat their customers is often a window into the owner's philosophies and personality.

Customer service is one of the key elements in a successful business. Being attentive to your customer’s needs and greeting them with a smile goes a long way in forging the trustful relationship of a long term customer.

That sort of care is the attractiveness of small, local businesses. Customers like it when they are greeted, their reason for coming into the business is sought, and their needs are met.Those approaches carry over to large corporations who have public interfaces as well. Both small and large businesses can learn from each other.

Over the years my family has become frequent visitors of Walt Disney World and returned again this past summer. We have visited enough that I now notice the smaller details of the parks. Like how the buildings are setup and decorated, the attention to detail regarding theme and accuracy, and the forced perspectives to make streets look longer or buildings larger. I also pay attention to the operations, how the employees handle themselves.

The Walt Disney World Resort is highly aware of image and attention to detail, ensuring the guests receive the most enjoyment out of their stay. A basic philosophy of Walt Disney was courtesy, efficiency, and show. This foundation was laid in the operation of Disneyland. When the park opened every ride had a ticket and separate price, which caused long lines. This was immediately fixed and guests were offered one park entry ticket that was good for all rides. An example of maintaining the “show” is in the often told story of Walt Disney walking through Disneyland and seeing a Tomorrowland character in Frontierland. He knew this would ruin the guest’s experience and magic. That is why the parks are designed so that employees (cast members) transit throughout the parks either out of costume, or behind the scenes. From the beginning at Disneyland, all the guests were treated like a VIP and this philosophy transferred to the Walt Disney World (WDW) resort.

The Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World is actually the second floor. Everything guests see is “on stage”. So movement of employees and materiel is done behind the scenes or through underground utilidoors. The behind the scenes walkways are different colors so as the employees approach work areas they know when they should be “in character”. The walkway color designates whether guests can see employees. The behind the scenes areas were also designed so that they are closer to each other than the on stage areas. While it may take guests ten minutes to traverse from one area of the park to another, it only takes a few minutes back stage. Further improving efficiency and maintaining the magic for the guests.

When WDW employees are working and in the public eye they have strict guidelines as to their dress and behavior. They must be in costume according to their assigned duties.  They cannot eat, smoke, sleep, sit down, chew gum, fold their arms, or lean against a wall or railing, Although these prohibitions seem harsh when listed, they are common in most workplaces. Those in management are dressed professionally and you will often see them holding a trash grabber as they walk around the parks. Everyone helps. For those whose primary job appears to be trash collection, they are actually tasked first as park guides, who happen to pick up trash as they walk around their assigned areas. We’ve never approached an employee who has not been eager to assist, even if they are obviously walking from one assignment to the next and are stopped. The way WDW employees conduct themselves is the result of established company rules, philosophies, and employee training.

The point of highlighting Walt Disney World is to example how the company makes every guest or customer feel like a VIP. Everything is done to enhance the customer’s experience, while at the same time maintaining efficient operations. Many of these concepts can be applied to businesses of any size, no matter if your customers are the public or other businesses. Without customers, you have no business.

I’ll write more on customer service in my next post.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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