I met a man a few days ago at a graduation party in Central Florida and we’ll call him Bill. An interesting fellow, we had a nice, open and honest conversation as we were some of the earliest guests at this party.
After speaking with Bill, I learned that he worked in the banking industry for about 25 years and had been retired for 6. During his first year of retirement in the Sunshine State, he didn’t know what to do besides hitting the links and playing 18 rounds of golf each and every day. So for the first 9 months of retirement, Bill did nothing but golf to pass the time away. Even though Bill loves golf, he knows he’s a people person and it didn’t take him long to see this activity didn’t bring enough people interaction so Bill searched for other things to help keep him busy during the first few years of retirement. Serendipity struck and shortly thereafter, he noticed an ad in the newspaper where the Disney Corporation was looking for part-time bus drivers. This was about 5 years ago. He’s been spending about 16 hours per week driving tourists and visitors and having a blast and once again, feeling part of a successful organization.
Interestingly, Bill said he’s never had any of his bus riders for any reason complain to corporate customer service. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t had customer service issues. Perhaps Bill has found ways to mitigate things and avoid smaller issues from escalating. That also doesn’t mean he’s always had people who were happy with their Disney experience or were having a great day at one of Disney’s theme parks, it just means customers were satisfied with his approach and focused less on complaining and more on having a good time. How can that be after 5 years of driving at Disney World? Are you always going to have a few people who are never satisifed?
Does Bill have a magical wand that he can wave among some unhappy riders to get them into a good mood? Or is it the way he says, “Have a great day at Disney?” or how he smiles at senior citizens, many of whom are around his age? No, I think it’s Bill’s commitment to customer service. It’s about troubleshooting issues that arise and knowing how to handle – probably similar to troubleshooting at a bank. It’s about listening to people – sometimes, when people have had a bad experience. Often, after a sub-par service experience at Disney, they just want to be heard especially when no one up to that point has listened to them. Of course, there are those situations where Bill feels it’s best for the corporate office at Disney to handle. The thing to remember here is that he’s the one who is doing the escalating.
This commitment to great service is also about empathy and attention – through his good customer service and strong communication skills, his record of none of his riders complaining to corporate customer service is unblemished. It’s not something he’s thought about in the past, he loves people, takes his job seriously and has fun. That puts a smile on Bill’s face, knowing, at the end of the day, he’s done his best work. If anything, the streak of no one complaining to corporate customer service is important to him because it shows, empowered employees with a caring attitude can turn a potentially negative situation into a good one.
Again, according to Bill’s customer service philosophy, much of customer service is about caring. It’s all about listening to understand first and speak second. It’s about putting yourself in the client’s shoes. It’s about doing some of the little things to help Disney patrons have a little better of an experience at one of their parks – helping Disney build their brand one interaction at a time. All of this together means good customer service or as I say, Empathica Service.