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Definitive Disney.

Imagine 10,000 of your members descending on your office three days in a row, all expecting VIP treatment. That's exactly what recently happened at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida, during a weekendlong party to celebrate the resort's 20th anniversary.

With attendance the size of a large convention-approximately 8,000-10,000 people-the celebration was the perfect opportunity to pick up some customer service tips that are directly applicable to association activities-especially meetings.

Guests versus members. Walt Disney World staff treat all visitors like guests in their homes. Walt Disney World's attitude is the same one associations adopt: "Members are the purpose of our work; they are not interruptions of it."

Employees as quests. Walt Disney World's concept carries over to staff as well. Staff treat co-workers like guests when they interact.

Appearance is everything. Walt Disney World employees follow dress codes and are not permitted to eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum in front of guests.

On stage versus off Stage. Any time Walt Disney World staff-known as cast member some in contact with guests, they are "on stage." They are no longer Steve or Mary; they are Walt Disney World and are expected to proudly represent the company.

"It's not my job." Walt Disney World staff do not use those words. If cast members don't know the answers, they reply, "I'm sorry I don't know the answer," or "I'm not sure how to solve your problem; let me find out and get back to you." Helping a guest often means walking him or her somewhere to find the answer. It doesn't mean, "See that man over there in the gray suit; go talk to him."

Accessible managers. At all levels, Walt Disney World managers practice management by walking around. In fact, cast members expect management to frequently visit them to see how things are going. When management doesn't visit, cast members remind them that they've been lax. This promotes good relations among staff and supervisors, and encourages staff to share their ideas with upper management.

Shop around. Walth Disney World has 'shoppers' who visit the company's various attractions and rate the helpfulness and efficiency of its cast members. Cast-member supervisors and upper management then review all comments-both good and bad.

Performance reviews. most management books say continual performance reviews are better than one performance review a year. Walt Disney World also believes a positive reinforcement system must be in place. The resort presents awards for things like perfect attendance and safety. But when warranted, constructive criticism balances praise.

Listening. Cast members are taught that listening is often more important than talking. Walt Disney World believes that when visitors are upset, they want someone to listen, to feel someone cares. What do you think? When a problem arises and a Walt Disney World cast member asks a supervisor for advice, he or she likely hears, "How do you recommend we solve this problem?' When supervisors provide all the answers, they deny staff the chance to learn for themselves. And upper management at Walt Disney World feels cast members come in contact with these situations more regularly and are in a position to offer suggestions.

Err in favor of the quest. That's a big part of Walt Disney World's philosophy. Err in favor of the guest if you are unsure. The bed experiences. Finally, Walt Disney World cast members note every frustrating experience they encounter with another person or company to make sure they don't do the same thing to someone else. The reasoning: If you don't find a weak spot, someone else will find it for you.

Walt Disney World's 20th anniversary celebration was a wonderful experience. Staff went out of their way to make each person feel welcome and important. The bottom line: Those in attendance came away feeling good. And that's how we want our members to feel when they interact with us.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:customer relations in Walt Disney World
Author:McGough, Lorri Lee
Publication:Association Management
Date:Mar 1, 1992
Words:645
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