In November 2001, my wife and I went on a Walt Disney World vacation. I love Disney for a number of reasons and this trip really solidified many of the key reasons why I love Disney.
Above all the reasons why I love Disney is the spectacular experience that comes with the price of admission. Every detail is thought out.
I was thinking about the difference of the theme park experience at a Disney theme park versus that experience at other theme parks such as Knott’s Berry Farm or Magic Mountain (I’m from Southern California).
At Disney, every detail is important. They theme everything…. even elements on the ground. Every cast member (employee) has one, single solitary purpose. That purpose is to help each guest suspend reality and enjoy the experience. The most notable element for a Disney theme park is that even the lines where people have to wait to get into a ride are thought out. Once you get to a reasonable distance from the front of the line, there are elements of curiosity to explore to help you pass the time more enjoyably.
Other theme parks attempt to have the theming carry you away to other places but don’t do it as effectively as Disney. Instead of feeling like you are in another reality, theme parks usually make you feel like you are in a theme park.
Another great example of Disney’s attention to details that are important in suspending the reality of guests is the Fastpass system. They were one of the early adopters of the concept and, in their thought of being proactive in making the experience better for their guests, in August 2007, Disney even filed for a patent to incorporate the Fastpass system into text messaging for mobile phones which also allowed for Disney hotel guests to get a Fastpass from their hotel rooms before they entered the park.
When thinking back to my Walt Disney World vacation with my wife, there is one experience that stands out among the rest. That is of dinner on the Disney Cruise line the first night we were at sea (we had a land/sea package). We were sitting in the nicest restaurant on the ship and Jen had ordered an appetizer. About half-way through the appetizer, the waiter stopped by and asked how everything was.
Jen’s words said, “It’s good.” (I knew she didn’t like it because she told me.)
Her face said, “Yuck.”
The waiter took one look at her and said, “Nope, you don’t like it. Don’t eat another bite. I’m going to bring you something different.”
He took her plate before she could put her fork down and was back in about 30 seconds with a different appetizer. He must have stolen it from another guest because it was as fresh as anything.
I put this to the test in just about every restaurant I go to now. When they ask me how my food is, I’ll say, “It’s good,” or I might say, “It’s not bad.”
I am testing them because what I want them to ask is, “What can we do to make it great?” But, nobody ever does. They simply nod as though I just paid them a spectacular compliment.
I know, in all of these restaurants, if I said, “I don’t like it,” they’d probably do whatever they can do to fix the problem. They would be happy to address the concerns as they come up.
I think that this is the key difference between good and great.
Good is reacting to the problems that arise. When someone points out a problem, you address it. In fact, to be good, you address it completely. When you think of good customer service, you think of a company that gets told there is a problem and they fix it.
Great is fixing a problem before the customer either knows about it or before they have gotten so upset to tell you about it. To be great, the clients are offered opportunities to have an improved experience because they are thinking they need it and not because they have asked for it.
Great is what creates the evangelists that will go to every climb to tell your story.
If you want to be great… I mean really great… at providing your customers what they deserve, it’s not enough to address problems as they come up. It’s critically important that you proactively look at what problems might come up and fix them before they are an issue. If you can’t do this on a consistent basis, the best you’ll ever be is just plain good.