Disney is beloved the world over and is recognized as a premiere family destination place. Whether you’re talking about the parks in Orlando, or California, people pay premium prices to be able to enjoy a little of the magic. But what makes Disney any different than the other amusement parks in the world? Many would say it’s Disney’s philosophy and training.
A recent article in Fast Company outlined the Seven Disney Service Guidelines:
- Make eye contact: – While a seemingly small thing, Disney is usually super busy. Being a person in this large moving body of people migrating from ride to ride can make someone feel very small and insignificant. By training employees to make eye contact with each and every guest they encounter, the employee is acknowledging their presence and personalizing their experience. It’s similar to saying, “You matter,” with a look.
- Greet and welcome every guest: – By making eye contact and then saying “Hello,” and welcoming them to the Park, people are made to feel special and important. A simple acknowledgement of their existence and singling out amidst this sea of humans is an act that people not only remember, but appreciate.
- Seek out guest contact: – Disney employees are not trained to be passive. They are taught to seek out guest contact, not to wait for a guest to initiate. They are actively in the crowd doing their job and, at the same time, looking for opportunities to interact with guests. I’m not talking about guests that “need” interaction (i.e.: Someone is having a bad experience that needs intervention). Disney employees are looking to interact with as many guests as possible. Their goal is simply to make someone’s day just a little happier.
- Provide immediate service recovery: – This is an integral part of the guidelines. The Disney parks are huge and accidents happen – whether its something as small as a child spilling their popcorn or a larger issue – so Disney has empowered its employees to use their judgment and take action immediately to fix the situation rather than force a guest to wait for a “manager” to appear.
- Always display appropriate body language: – Disney knows that body language is just as important as physical language. People naturally communicate through body language all the time. . It’s not only important to watch what they say and how they say it. An employee having a bad day (which everyone does) can easily transmit that through their body language without ever once complaining. You set the tone for the atmosphere in your business. Customers will mimic that tone even if it’s subconsciously.
- Create dreams and preserve the “magical guest experience”: – Anything within an employee’s power that can be done to enhance the guest experience is encouraged. Disney wants everyone’s trip to be memorable and magical and sometimes, it only takes a small thing to make that happen… a hug from a Princess, a “Happy Birthday” from an employee while in line, etc. Even the smallest gesture can be magnified when seen through the eyes of a child.
- Thank each and every guest: – As businesses, we certainly are appreciative of all of our customers but do they know it? This simple policy is designed to insure that every guest is acknowledged and thanked at some point in the day (if not multiple times) for choosing Disney. They don’t post people at the exits specifically to say this; they expect their employees to be doing this continuously all day long.
Disney has some great lessons and practices that can be applied to any business. They are making the adoption of these by other businesses easier through the sharing and teaching of non-Disney employees and business owners through their Disney University. Disney has such a loyal customer base because it has policies in place to make everyone feel special. They also empower their employees to take immediate action to rectify anything that could jeopardize a guest experience.
One thing I’d like to leave you with. If you ask Disney, they don’t have any “employees.” Their staff is called “Cast Members.” Why? Because they realize that the Park is their venue, the guests are their audience and they are always, always, on stage.
Today’s world is full of review sites and social media- the epitome of information at your fingertips. And because of this, reviews have become that much more important for customer retention and new client business. Search engines are becoming increasingly savvier by routinely displaying reviews (and review sites) very high in search results. Many dealerships are recognizing this and paying more attention to them, thus creating processes to encourage customers to share their experiences when buying a new vehicle. This feedback is great and can help foster your next sale.
However, why solely focus on just the sales department? Your service department is the life-line to your customers after the sale is completed, from routine maintenance and repairs to aftermarket accessory purchases to the encouragement of buying their next vehicle from your dealership. Feedback on our service department is equally, if not more important, and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
We all know it’s easy for a consumer who has had a negative experience to leave a horrible (or less than flattering) review of your dealership without any help from you. And, it takes a little more effort to get a happy customer to actually leave you a glowing evaluation. Does it have to be this hard? No; by taking the few minutes to engage the customer to ensure they are satisfied, then asking them to share their positive experience, can be that simple. Most customers who feel they have been well treated and received good value will be more inclined to share their experience, even if the request is suggested by your service team. For those customers who chose to share a less flattering review, do yourself a favor and reach out and try to turn a less positive review into one more favorable. People can (and do) change their written opinion if they feel you made an effort to turn a wrong into a right.
Don’t fall into the trap of focusing only on sales reviews, thus neglecting your service appraisals. Unhappy customers don’t distinguish between the two departments when sharing or reading negative feedback. In a perfect world, you would never have to deal with negative reviews or be in fear of customers rejecting your business because of an off day. But in today’s world, where information is shared in real-time and at a moment’s notice, you need to be prepared to take the good with the bad. Whether it is sales or service, potential customers will certainly see all the shared feedback and will make their buying decisions based off another’s experience. How you deal with the feedback is what really matters… it can either make you stronger or set up for failure.
Here are a few thoughts on why you should be encouraging your service customers to leave reviews for your dealership and how those reviews can translate into more revenue for your store as a whole.
- In most dealerships, the service department produces a large percentage of the dealership’s income. And because of this, I would argue that there are more people using search engines, such as Google, Yahoo!, or Bing, looking for dealerships to service their cars than to buy a new car. Maximize this opportunity to spread the word.
- The competitor base is larger for service than sales. When you factor in competing dealerships, aftermarket car care centers and DIYers you need to grab the attention of your service customers. When buying a new car, customers have limited options if they are drawn to a specific brand. For example, if you are a Ford store, even in a dense auto market, you may only have 5-6 real sales competitors. However, for service your competition can quickly escalate to 50 or a 100 (depending on the marketplace) with all the various service options available. Make yourself stand out from the pack.
- All dealerships strive to turn their sales customers into service customers. Apply this same logic to turning your service customers into sales customers. The fact remains that many of your service customers, if happy, will consider your dealership first when looking to buy a new car. Capitalize on this.
- On any given day, your service department, in reality, is going to be in touch and capturing the attention of more customers waiting for or having service performed on their vehicles than sales. It’s a numbers game. Take advantage of this opportunity. The best marketing is free marketing. Let you customers sell your business for you. AND, on the chance that you have a negative situation arise, work hard to turn it around. Don’t turn a blind eye to any opportunity.
With search engines incorporating more social signals into their algorithms, it will become increasingly important for you to get your customers talking about you. If you don’t already have a process in place to solicit reviews from service customers, start one today.
Final thought… at the end of the day, any customer review is an endorsement that can help you win new business, whether it is service or sales. Encourage your customers to sell your dealership, as word of mouth is the best form of advertising. It costs nothing and can empower you to gain a lot.
In today’s world, there are many standout companies when it comes to customer service; Zappos and Nordstrom being a couple of examples. These companies focus on providing their customers with world-class service and, because of that, people are willing to pay more while maintaining fierce loyalty. Not only do these companies earn the loyalty of their customers through the service experience, they transform many of them into brand advocates. The reason their customers patronize them and recognize this level of customer service is that it is, unfortunately, not the norm in today’s world.
Zappos and Nordstrom are not in business to lose money. In fact, both companies profit through their reputations of providing great customer service that, in turn, increase their customer base by attracting new customers eager to share in the experience.
The Olive Garden restaurant recently sympathized with a patron whose parent’s house had just burned down and decided to comp the party’s entire meal. The patron posted a photo of the comp’d receipt to the Internet in an effort to thank and show appreciation for the Olive Garden’s good deed. Because people aren’t used to acts of kindness and service from companies, many were skeptical and questioned the receipt as a PR stunt even after the patron posted links to news articles reporting the house fire and the Olive Garden’s PR agency denying their involvement. The photo quickly went viral and has not only spread through social media but has also been picked up by prominent news agencies like Yahoo!, The Huffington Post and the Consumerist.
By providing an exceptional customer service experience; your customers will become loyal and share their experiences with others. Even though people may begin with skepticism, by providing a consistent experience of excellent service, word will spread and customers will not only go out of their way to patronize your dealership but also to encourage others to do so.
Through technology, we’re more capable than ever to provide this experience to our customers in an easier, more efficient manner that will lead to increased revenue, loyalty, customer retention and consistently excellent CSI scores while allowing you to maintain an acceptable profit on your services.