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Exceeding Guest Expectations: Focus On the Little Things That Make Emotional Connections

January 19, 2016 by Bruce Jones, Senior Programming Director, Disney Institute

At Disney Parks and Resorts, we pride ourselves on striving to offer experiences that not just meet, but exceed our Guests’ expectations.

In fact, we recently talked about how we pay close attention to the little things that enhance our Guests’ experiences. Today, we’ll look specifically at some of those potentially overlooked details that enable our Cast to connect emotionally and build relationships with our Guests.

Why is this important? At Disney, we have seen that the power of service lies in its ability to create an emotional connection rather than a purely rational connection – and emotional connections lead to economic outcomes.

As we’ve taught countless business professionals over the years, creating emotional connections with customers is key to delivering exceptional service experiences. Research suggests that organizations that have optimized this emotional connection have significantly outperformed competitors in sales growth and profitability. 

In fact, emotionally engaged customers tend to be: 

  • At least three times more likely to recommend
  • Three times more likely to repurchase
  • Less likely to shop around
  • Much less price sensitive

In our parks and resorts, Cast Members employ a number of little “Disney differences” that delight our Guests. These small, individualized moments of magic can add up to an overall experience where each Guest can feel special. In fact, we want them to feel like the “VIPs” they are—very important people—and also that they are very individual people

Here are some examples of these personalized interactions:

Want to Trade?
Pin trading is an interactive experience where our Guests can trade pins with other Guests and with our Cast Members. Whether a Guest is new to pin trading or has an entire collection, it allows them to connect with us one on one to talk about their favorite characters, movies, attractions or pin series. 

I’m Celebrating!
Celebration buttons create a unique opportunity to connect with our Guests on an individual basis. Complimentary at our parks and resorts, celebration-specific buttons send visual cues to our Cast Members when a Guest is celebrating a birthday, anniversary, a family reunion or their first visit to our parks and resorts, and provide numerous chances for fun, spontaneous interactions.

Where Are You From?
Disney nametags continue to foster connections with our Guests. Beyond the approachable oval shape and the Cast Member’s first name, they also display our hometown city and state. By conveying this little bit of extra personal information, it creates opportunities for conversation: “Do you know so-and-so from my hometown?” or, “How often do you return home?” This friendly interaction can create an instant bond between Cast Members and Guests.

Creating personal interactions and building relationships with customers doesn’t have to be difficult. Consider implementing little things like pins, buttons or personalized nametags in your own organization. Want to learn more? Consider enrolling in our Disney’s Approach to Quality Service course.

What little things can you implement now to connect emotionally and build relationships with your customers?

We’d love to hear from you!
Post your response below, or respond to us on Facebook or Twitter using Hashtag #DThinkBlog.


Disney Institute is ready to help you apply strategic rigor to your customer experience efforts - call us at 321.939.4600 or complete our Contact Form




Posted in Quality Service | Tagged Service, Customer Service, Service Experience, Customer Experience, Service Design, Customer Expectations, Exceeding Guest Expectations, Bruce Jones


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