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Talking Point: The Disney Institute Blog

Customer Service 101: Happiness Is A Purple Balloon

March 28, 2017 by Bruce Jones, Senior Programming Director, Disney Institute

At Disney Institute we are often asked, “How do you create a workplace culture that inspires employees to provide great customer service on a consistent basis?”

Recently, I read an article in Harvard Business Review that mentions these four tips for improving customer service:

  • Make sure you start with leadership
  • Don’t focus on training for specific scripts or skills
  • Don’t pilot changes
  • Don’t track traditional metrics

These are all good and important things that can help an organization improve its customer experience, but there is one very important thing we would probably add: a common purpose.

As we teach in our professional development training courses, Disney’s key to creating magical Guest interactions stems from our own common purpose"We create happiness by providing the best in entertainment for people of all ages everywhere."

When our Cast Members understand that their primary goal is to create happiness they become empowered to create, what we like to call, “magical moments.” From park greeters to attraction attendants to those in backstage support roles – every decision they make regarding a Guest interaction is focused on, “creating happiness.”

Here’s an example of two of our Cast Members doing just that…

Keith and his wife, Nancy, brought their two children to Disneyland for the holidays. While Disneyland is truly a very special place, for the Sharon family a trip to Disney can be daunting. Their youngest son is autistic and sometimes noises and crowds can become overwhelming. “In the past, we’ve had to leave Disneyland before noon because the stimulation was too much,” Keith shared.

But, this particular visit to Disneyland was different. Upon arriving their young son noticed something he really wanted: a large clear balloon with a smaller purple (his favorite color) Mickey shaped balloon inside. Keith and Nancy told him that if he was good, then they would get him one at the end of the night.

Well, that day at Disneyland ended up being “the happiest day of [his] life.” The Sharon family went on several new rides they had never experienced before and made it through lunch at Flo’s V8 Café in Cars Land without incident.

It was at the end of the day when, as promised, it was time to find the purple balloon. Walking up and down Main Street, there was not a purple balloon in sight. Frantic, Nancy approached a Cast Member only to discover that all the purple balloons were sold out. This could have quickly turned one of the happiest days into a challenging and frustrating night.

Instead, this Cast Member clearly saw that Nancy was in distress and called to a fellow Cast Member who disappeared behind a door, reappearing a few moments later with…a PURPLE balloon.

“Nancy hugged the two Cast Members because she didn’t know what else to say,” Keith recalls. “To us, that balloon, that day, that ending…will always be priceless.”

There are any number of ways to create happiness. At Disney, our common purpose is the “North Star” that inspires our Cast Members and guides them in how to go above and beyond when opportunities like this one present themselves. Their one goal: create happiness.

Want to learn more the concept of a common purpose? Consider enrolling in our Disney’s Approach to Quality Service course, where we teach business professionals and other organizations how they can adapt some of Disneys best practices to transform the way they approach delivering quality service to their own customers. 

Think about it: What inspires your employees to go above and beyond on behalf of your customers?


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, Quality Service, Customer Service, Customer Experience, CX, Harvard Business Review, Common Purpose, Bruce Jones | 0 Comments


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