Disney has it right…they know something about customer service we can all learn from, and copy. The company’s executives tell a great story about customer service from the early days of their Orlando, FL, theme park, Disney World. When they opened the park in the 1970s, they were passionately committed to making the experience memorable from the moment visitors entered the gate to the park until they left. The wanted to “own” every aspect of your experience inside the park and, through great service and unique experiences, make you a raving fan. They were successful in doing that right from the start. But they quickly learned that they had left out one aspect of their visitors’ experience that had a big effect on their memories, and their attitude about the park—the parking lot.
In the early months of the park’s operation, Disney staffers saw happy families leave the park at the end of a long day who quickly discovered that they had no idea where they parked their car. They would wander the rows of the huge lots in a desperate attempt to find a rental car that looked the same as thousands of others. Their mood would change from happy exhaustion to frustration and anger. And their memories of their experience at the park would be altered…they might even go home and tell their friends that the park was great, but their experience in the parking lot was awful.
Disney’s team realized they needed to “own” the parking lot…they needed to devise a way for folks to find their car quickly at the end of the day. And they did so by parking visitors in “time blocks”…if you arrive at 8:45 a.m., you will be asked to park in a specific location in the lot (say, Pluto section 1). Seems we cannot remember where we park, but we can remember with pretty good accuracy when we arrive. From that moment forward, Disney turned the parking lot experience into an amazing example of great service. Visitors were returning home, raving about the park, and saying things like this: “On top of that, they found my car in 10 minutes…that place is incredible!”
Take a look at your own business and ask yourself this question: “What are my “parking lots”? What are those extra, or “outside” elements of your business that you may not feel you need to “own” because they are not a part of the core product or service you provide. What would happen to your customers’ experience in doing business with you if you “owned” those parking lots…if you made their experience in the outside, or extra, elements of your business remarkable. Perhaps it is the experience your customers have just outside your retail store, or in the entryway. Perhaps it is the experience they have in dealing with your distributors, or the experience they have when they call your outsourced help line. Ask yourself how you can make that experience tremendously positive so that your customers see you as a true champion of customer service.
In short, “own” your parking lots and you will make your customers raving fans who will bring others to you in bunches.
© 2010 Makarios Consulting, LLC, www.MakariosConsulting.com