Talking Point: The Disney Institute Blog

Customer Service 101: How to Rupture Stereotypes and Differentiate Your Brand

August 21, 2014 by Bruce Jones, Senior Programming Director, Disney Institute

Managing Tools recently published an e-newsletter titled “Why Aren’t Doctor’s Offices Fun?” In the article, the author wonders why more doctors’ offices cannot create a more appealing environment and asks some insightful questions such as: “Why do the offices have to be so grey?

Well, of course the answer is, they don’t have to be so grey. It’s often a choice made by the doctor, and the reason this is important is because, in many cases, today’s patients are also making choices – about where they can get the best outcome, the best customer service, and the best overall experience.

Walt Disney understood from the beginning that customers have choices. When he was building Disneyland, he knew that he had to differentiate it from the typical amusement park experience of the day. “When I started on Disneyland, my wife used to say, But why do you want to build an amusement park? Theyre so dirty. I told her that was just the point--mine wouldnt be,” Walt said.

In other words, theme parks don’t have to be dirty! In fact, Walt completely ruptured the negative stereotypes of the amusement park industry, which provided the company an opportunity to clearly differentiate itself from the field. Notorious for “plussing” the customer service experience, Walt paid extraordinary attention to details.  

John Hench, one of the original Disney Imagineers, remembers watching Walt Disney finesse a setting, another word we use for “place.” John said, “I was so astonished by the way Walt would create a kind of live-action, cross-dissolve when passing from one area of Disneyland to another. He would even insist on changing the texture of the pavement at the threshold of each new land because, he said, ‘You can get information about a changing environment through the soles of your feet.’”

Can you imagine a doctor’s office changing the texture of the flooring as a patient passes from one area of the office to the other? Would anyone notice? Would it matter? How would this impact the customer experience and patient satisfaction?

Having worked for years with healthcare industry clients and conducted countless customer service training programs, we at Disney Institute have seen that patients and family members (as well as doctors and staff) do notice, especially as more and more small positive changes take place. While they may not notice each individual detail on its own, they will likely say, “Something has changed.”

On the other hand, the risk is that patients will also notice if the doctor and staff allow these details to slip away. Again, they may not be able to tell you what specifically changed, but they will be able to tell you that, “Something has changed.” And they will begin to entertain other choices.

Walt knew this as well, and in the year before his death, he was asked what would happen to his organization, “after Disney.” Walt’s response is one that continues to drive The Walt Disney Company today: 

“Well, I think by this time, my staff, my young group of executives and everything else are convinced that Walt is right, that quality will out. And so I think they’re going to stay with that policy because it’s proven that it’s a good business policy. Give the public everything you can give them. Keep the place as clean as you can keep it. Keep it friendly. You know, make it a real fun place to be. I think they’re convinced, and I think that will hang on – as you say – after Disney.”  – Walt Disney

There you have it. To exceed customer service expectations, aim to deliver positive surprises and rupture the stereotypes of your industry. For more on this topic, see: Consider Your Setting: Everything Speaks

So, how are you rupturing the stereotypes of your industry, organization, department or office?

About the Photo: 
Pictured above, Mickey Mouse greets a young patient in the lobby of the Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando, Fla. The state-of-the-art facility features an interactive lobby that was designed by Walt Disney Imagineering to spark creativity, fun and happiness for the hospitals youngest patients and visitors. Learn more here: The Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children

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For nearly three decades, Disney Institute has provided engaging and insightful learning opportunities for business professionals and organizations, teaching them the Disney approach to business….focusing on Service, Leadership, Culture, Brand Loyalty, Creativity and Innovation. To learn more about how you can attend an upcoming course, see our full Course Calendar. Not sure which course is best for you? Try our Course Recommender.

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Posted in Quality Service | Tagged Service, Quality Service, Customer Experience, Customer Service Training, Rupture Stereotypes, Rupturing Stereotypes, Culture, Healthcare, Hospital, John Hench, Walt Disney, Florida Hospital, Bruce Jones

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