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We Should All Have this Disney Store Problem

Posted on 10/21/14 12:00 PM

If your business is Main Street, customer or guest service is one of the pillars in your market share strategy. Some companies map out a coherent, action-filled process and practice to achieve their customer service goals. Some bigstock-Disney-Store-60393395companies just take a “fluff” approach. Social scientists have, of course, studied the employee-customer interaction experience and measured every aspect that is remotely measurable. The results are clear. Positive interactions result in customers spending more time in-store, spending more money, buying more add-ons, and making future returns to shop again. 
Unfortunately, customer experience shops (e.g. Mystery shops) often demonstrate that regardless of policy or process, the experience hinges on the individual employee…and sometimes what kind of day they are having or how busy they might be. So while the “customer experience” remains critical, the execution isn’t always consistent. The problem isn’t process and it’s not driven by a lack of commitment at the top level. The problem with customer service is more the battle between theory and practice. In theory leadership fully supports a positive experience, but in practice we do a really good job of making it second to just about every other task a store faces. In doing so, we send a conflicting message—deliver an exceptional experience, but also get all this other stuff done. Since the “stuff” is more easily and quickly measured it becomes the real employee priority. 

What seems like yesterday, but was actually several years ago, I was walking through the mall with my son. We passed the Disney Store and he asked, “Dad did you ever play the Disney Store Game?” I had not. “I don’t know anyone who has ever won,” he stated. He went on to explain that the game was popular among younger teens. The rules were simple. Two or more teens entered the Disney Store. The goal and the winner was the person who could make it to the back of the store and touch the wall…without being greeted by an associate.

“And you can’t win this game?” It seemed incredible, since from my own experience I had wandered many stores without so much as eye contact with an associate.

“Nope,” he answered. “I know one guy who did, but he cheated, crawled on the floor.”

Later I went on-line and looked it up—I looked it up again today before I started this post—and it’s there in the Urban Dictionary. Actual rules to play by and pretty much just as my son had described.

It’s quite the problem to have, this Disney thing. Not surprising however to anyone who has ever visited their theme parks. The service is great, the place immaculate considering the traffic, and yet not one employee will forget to stay in character…or greet a guest. Guest Service is their primary function…I think they even have a song.

Okay so we’re not all Disney, and maybe some of us are more profitable than the Disney Stores. Still, if customer experience is so critical. If we are going to invest even a minute of our limited and stressed time into it, then shouldn’t we do it right? Shouldn’t it be so engrained in associate behavior that teens across the country create a game to beat our system? For all the coupons, sales, smile training, and loyalty program, could your stores pass the Disney Test? Maybe that’s where we should begin—with that particular end in mind. Reward our associates for providing a great experience at the same rate we reward them for “taking in a truck” or “finishing markdowns.” If we did, we would see improvements in everything else. Because if the customer experience is the most important thing, then of course we want a clean store, of course we want the merchandise looking good, or course we want everything properly marked, and of course we want to be helpful. 

I think, often, we try to build great customer service “on top of those things” instead of building those things on top of great customer service. I think we confuse customer experience with sales, with a liberal return policy or by placing their name on a loyal card. Those things are nice, but our personal experience tells us that the places we love to shop and visit are the ones where we have positive interactions with associates. When that “experience” is gone or we no longer need it…then we’ll all be shopping on-line.

Authored by: Ray Esposito


Ray Esposito 

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, customer service

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