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Joanne Fritz

Is Customer Service a Bunch of Mickey Mouse?

By April 23, 2012

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Vintage Mickey Mouse Movie Poster

Some companies do extreme customer service. For instance, Zappos lives and breathes good service; Starbucks puts the customer first; Southwest Airlines has made even budget travel enjoyable with good service; and Disney's theme parks sweat every little thing, from the spacing of trash containers to the fireworks that light up the eyes of their young visitors.

Disney has been a model for extreme customer service for years and is even in the business of advising other companies and nonprofit organizations about how to provide enchantment even if they don't have Mickey Mouse on the premises.

The New York Times has a wonderful article about Disney's customer service consulting business, and how it is thriving in a world of higher customer expectations. The Disney Institute, a division of the Walt Disney Company, has helped school districts, Chevy dealers, and hospitals polish up their acts to delight, soothe, and stage their services and wares through better customer relations.

The Disney Institute has for years brought clients to the theme parks to get a firsthand look at their customer service. Increasingly, the company is also going into the field with seminars that focus on the basic principles of leadership, training, customer experience, brand loyalty and creativity.

It's really all about the little stuff. One hospital for children was coached to add a musician to the lobby, teachers in a school district were advised to crouch so as to get on their young students' level, and the Chevy dealers were taught how to "stage" their showrooms better and set up or improve play areas for the kids who then let their parents browse the wares in relative peace.

Honestly, even though it would be wonderful to have Disney visit your organization, that probably is not in the cards for most nonprofits. But you can start thinking about the small things that make such a big difference...telephone manners, pleasant waiting areas, less wait time, going the extra mile to serve, events that charm, and happy employees.

What are you doing to make your organization's service more Mickey Mouse?

Read more about nonprofit customer service:

Photo: One-of-a-kind Disney film poster from the 1930s and '40s/Getty Images


April 24, 2012 at 8:29 am
(1) Larry Checco says:

Couldn’t agree with you more, Joanne.

And the real beauty for nonprofits operating on limited budgets is that they don’t need to hire high-priced consultants. They can start by:

* Putting the right people in the right positions (someone on the phone or front desk who enjoys interacting positively with people, for example)

* Letting those people know the important role they play in helping the organization achieve its mission, namely that they are not simply receptionists or support staff, but rather Directors of First Brand Impressions

* Respecting, recognizing and rewarding those folks for the good and important work that they do

* Creating a healthy, positive work environment to make all this happen, which falls squarely on the shoulders of an organization’s leaders.

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