Disney University: No Mickey
Mouse customer service

While it may not grant terminal degrees in the subject, The Walt Disney Company knows a lot about customer service. That's why 250 Emory employees recently attended a seminar by Jim Cunningham of Disney University Professional Development Programs called "Service, Disney Style."

Cunningham outlined Disney's attitude toward customer service, which is known as the best in the world.

Disney's methods for customer relations vary according to the situation and the type of consumer involved, said Cunningham, but overall, the company strives to pay great attention to detail and to exceed guests expectations.

Cunningham emphasized that Disney takes two points seriously in its view of customer service. First, "the front line is the bottom line," and second, "it's 10 percent product and 90 percent service." "It's the type of service received that usually determines the decisions customers make," he said.

Cunningham stressed the importance of getting more information and feedback from and to the front lines to find out more about customers' wants and needs. "Answers to customer questions should be fast and accurate," he said.

"Disney employees constantly ask, 'What makes us Disney? What makes us different?'" Cunningham continued. "It should be the rallying cry for any business." The dynamic and interactive model of service at Disney includes four points set in a connected circle-delivery, setting, guests and the service goal.

For example, Disney's average guest is a family that has saved for two and a half years before taking their vacation, Cunningham explained. "Everyone has certain needs from Disney, certain stereotypes of Disney and certain emotions involved that determine what they do," he said. "If you think emotion is a flat line, you're missing the boat-high emotional satisfaction determines our repeat visitors."

As for Disney's service goal, the message is clear, he said. "We create happiness. We provide the finest in entertainment for people of all ages everywhere." In pursuit of this goal, Disney encourages its employees to be "aggressively friendly" and to focus on their four priorities for guest entertainment-safety, courtesy, show and efficiency.

Because facts are negotiable but perceptions are not, Cunningham said, setting takes on great importance. He told the Emory group that 5 percent of all Kodak film is used for pictures at Disney attractions. Disney's attention to detail sends staff around the world to recruit cast members and to get things right.

Cunningham ended the seminar with a quote from Walt Disney himself: "You don't build it for yourself. You know what people want and you build it for them."

-Danielle Service

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