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Customer Service vs. Customer Experience

March 21, 2013 by Bruce Jones, Programming Director, Disney Institute

Providing good customer service seems as simple as reacting to a Guest’s request.

Suppose a Guest who wishes to purchase an ice cream bar tells the Cast Member which ice cream they would like, pays the Cast Member, and goes on their way. The transaction is complete, but what type of experience did that Guest receive?

Now imagine a Guest who approaches a Cast Member and is greeted with eye contact and a smile. The Guest tells the Cast Member which ice cream they would like, and while the Cast member serves the Guest, they ask how their day in the Park has been. The Guest pays the Cast Member who thanks them for their purchase and offers to answer any questions or provide directions to their next Park adventure.

The difference between a customer service interaction and a customer service experience is distinct. Instead of merely processing the transaction, the Cast Member is friendly, conversational, and seeks out ways to make the Guest’s experience a more enjoyable one.

Take a moment to consider the application to your organization — how could you be going above and beyond for your customers?




Posted in Quality Service | Tagged Customer Service Training, Customer Service Techniques, Customer Experience Improvement, Customer Retention, Bruce Jones | 2 Comments


2 Responses to Customer Service vs. Customer Experience

  • William says:

    on March 22, 2013

    Bruce, loved the distinction between the two actions. I'd love to hear more about "going above and beyond for your customers." There is a lot of talk about how companies should provide less rigid training to employees and instead give them more "autonomy" to go out and create the experiences you described - going above and beyond. But, I would assume that Disney doesn't just send out cast members to interact at their own discretion. Instead, I would venture to say that Disney probably develops systems & processes and trains cast members to a painstaking degree in order to empower them to provide customers the experiences Disney wants them to have. Jim Collins calls this "Freedom (and Responsibility) Within a Framework" in his book "Good to Great." What are your thoughts on this? Is "going above and beyond for your customers" more about hands-off autonomy for employees or more about empowering them through a well designed structure, process, and training program? Or maybe something else entirely? Thanks Bruce. Love to read the blog posts.


  • Mark says:

    on March 26, 2013

    I am a former castmember ( 96-98 ). I remember going through traditions when I was first hired and we were taught to do whatever we needed to do to make the guests experience something they would remember for a lifetime. Those lessons follow you through out your life and career. No matter what carrer path you choose after Disney, guest service/experience is always key to a businesses success.


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