Be Our Guest – Theodore Kinni [Book Summary]

by Nick

“Be our guest” reveals Disney’s key principles that provide incredible service to customers, and how following these principles has helped the company become the successful business empire it is today.

The Disney Institute at its seminars, meetings, and presentations teaches companies the knowledge and skills used by Walt Disney Company.

Theodore Kinni is the senior editor of Strategy + Business magazine. He has written many business articles from various companies, including IBM, Booz & Company, and the Prime Resource Group.

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Find Out Why You Always Get the Best Service at Disney

Where did you dream to go on vacation during your childhood? Most adults (like their children) will answer: at Disneyland or Disney World.

How does one company manage to stay so loved for many years? The entertainment industry has changed from generation to generation, but Disney Company has been and remains the most successful in it.

Of course, the company’s animated films helped a lot to attract children from all over the world, but their highest standards of customer service played an equally important role in Disney’s success, thanks to which people use their services again and again.

You will learn how far Disney goes to make sure that everything the company does, from employee expectations to theme park design, is designed to best meet the needs of each guest.

From this book you will learn:

  • what is the integration matrix and how to use it;
  • why the entrance to Disney is so richly and fancifully decorated; and
  • what is the secret of fountains and why they bring so much joy to children?

Disney’s customer service strategy takes into account what guests want and provides them with the best possible service according to their wishes.

Disney’s professional customer service relies on a carefully thought-out Compass of quality service.

Like a true compass with its four key points, the Quality of Service Compass has four key elements that help guide every Disney employee to provide quality customer service.

The Number 1 Compass Element is the Art and Science of Knowing and Understanding Customers. In the World of Disney,  It is Known as Hospitality.

This point is the basis for all other quality of service compass activities. It involves examining the guest’s expectations — whether he loves or dislikes them — and then informing employees (or group members, as they are called at Disney) about these expectations.

For example, in Disney, guests were examined and the main goals of relaxation in the family theme park were determined.

It was discovered that the guests wanted to enjoy pastime with their family, as well as take a break from the exhausting daily life schedule.

Disney then used this knowledge to shape and change the ideal service for its visitors.

The compass element number 2 is focused on quality standards. Once you know what your guests want, you can begin to make sure of the high quality of services that you will provide them.

Disney defines four important quality standards: safety, courtesy, show, and efficiency.

Security ensures the well-being of all guests, while courtesy means that guests are treated with individuality. The show takes into account the situation and means that all elements of customer experiences are in harmony, and efficiency ensures that the facilities, systems, and employees work as they should.

Disney knows these standards are paramount.

Consider a situation in which an employee is about to perform on a show. And he sees a lost child.

Since safety is the first Disney quality standard, before you start the show, an employee will help the child.

Disney provides high-quality service, ensuring the continuous operation of all systems

We examined the first two elements. Now let’s look at the two remainings. Compass element number 3 includes service systems: workers, environment, and processes.

Let’s expand these concepts. Workers receive ongoing performance tips to maintain the highest level of service. Managers are convinced that the environment for customers, whether it is a hotel, theme park or store, is consistent with Disney values. Designing error-free processes are critical to customer experiences.

Disney ensures that every part of the decor matches the guest’s wildest fantasies. For example, even the door handles from the dining room at the Disney Hotel were taken directly from Alice in Wonderland. Such details immerse guests in a special, magical atmosphere.

Disney also works on stress-free. For example, many guests had difficulty finding their cars in the huge theme park parking lot. For this, Disney came up with a special solution.

Parking lots are filled in a certain order, and the guest’s arrival time is noted. Thus, every family after a long day can easily find their car, just remembering when they arrived.

The compass element number 4 is integration, it combines three service systems. Each of the systems needs to be managed separately, and for greater efficiency, they need to be combined.

For this, Disney uses a special integration matrix. This matrix takes one important Disney factor and makes sure that all three elements meet the requirements in the context.

For example, take such an important element as politeness and put it in the integration matrix, which will combine politeness with employees, environment, and processes.

Managers should make sure that employees are trained to be polite and helpful to guests of a particular store; in a store or setting, guests are given “recognition cards” that they will give to the most helpful staff. A process that allows guests to name VIPs among their staff is another way to express courtesy in all its forms.

Targeted actions aimed at quality of service – promise to customers and mission for employees

Disneyland Claims to Be “the Happiest Place on Earth.” but Why Come Up With a Catchy Slogan?

Just then, the slogan that describes the general target setting forms the basis for the image of your company.

This tagline tells guests what they can expect from your company. With a slogan, you give consumers promises that you must fulfill or overfulfill – otherwise they will not return.

Disney’s tagline is: “We create happiness by providing the best entertainment for people of all ages, around the world.”

With this statement, Disney voices its goal, to create happiness, provides information on how to achieve this, providing the best entertainment, and identifies your target group, people of all ages around the world.

But slogans also play an important internal role for the company. Developing a common goal can also serve as a mission for your employees, guiding them.

With a Well-designed Slogan, You Create a Common Goal for All Employees, Regardless of Their Position.

Thus, a Disney employee does not just do his job, but becomes part of one of the leading companies in the world and plays an important role in interacting with customers. To emphasize this concept, Disney does not actually use the word “customer”, preferring the word “guest”.

We all know that a guest is one who should be given special attention. Disney works to ensure that their employees welcome the “guests” as kindly as possible, and cultivates an individual approach – guests are not just faceless “customers”, which are just part of the statistics.

In general, the formulation of the overall goal of your company can inspire both customers and employees, allowing them to focus on the main thing and increase their effectiveness.

Take into account how the client sees, feels and hears the world you created for him

Have you ever wondered why the first thing you feel in the morning at Disneyland is the smell of popcorn? Because it creates a cozy, warm atmosphere!

The smell is a very important element of customer experience. And the view is no less important. About 70 percent of all receptors for the perception of the whole body is in our eyes, so the key element of your impression is what your client will see.

In Walt Disney World, road signs and signs are painted in purple and red. But why exactly this strange combination? In an experiment conducted by the company, participants were shown flags of different colors and red and violet were best remembered.

However, customer experiences are not limited to smell and appearance. The guest should never encounter sounds that are unpleasant or annoying to him. Sounds should also blend seamlessly into the world your company created.

Music is especially important. Music affects emotions, causes people joy or anger. Therefore, you need to make sure that your music matches the purpose of your store or place.

At Hong Kong Disneyland, the Company Uses Sound to Help Inspire Employees Early in the Day.

The CostuMagic system allows the employee to test the costume, and when the process is successfully completed, the well-known “magic ringing” of the Tinker Bell Fairy is played.

This playful sound signals the transformation of an employee who has now entered the role and is ready to welcome guests!

So the next time you visit Disneyland, be aware that the company is not trying to get you to buy popcorn for breakfast. The combination of smells looks and sounds in the theme park form an impression.

What Your Customers Eat and What They Touch Are Also Impressions

Dozens of kiosks and restaurants at Disneyland echo the theme of parks. For example, you will not find starched tablecloths and trendy dishes in Frontierland.

To maintain the image that you want to present to customers, you must consciously form and adapt everything that your company does to a single image.

If customers are looking for entertainment, they do not want their illusions to be destroyed by something everyday and commonplace. They are looking for exciting experiences and even food.

Disney’s solution is to adapt the menus of their restaurants to its various leisure parks. You can eat fried turkey legs at Frontierland, or take a walk along Disney’s Boardwalk and nibble salty toffee.

The tastes offered to correspond to the setting and preferences of consumers.

So, we examined smell, sight, hearing, and taste. Now let’s look at the system of touch of guests.

People get tons of information through touch. Our sense of touch is exacerbated when we touch something with hands, feet, or even faces. This means that it is very important to ensure that guests are surrounded by pleasant and interesting things to the touch.

One of the Ways Disneyland Achieves This is to Use Water.

The company plays on the fact that people like water, especially children, who just fall into rapture when they splash water.

In Disney theme parks, fountains are hidden in the most unexpected places to surprise children by suddenly spraying them with a stream of water!

Use polls wisely to learn more about customer habits and even emotions.

Although surveys can be tedious, “client-oriented” companies understand that they are an important tool in studying the needs of clients, which allows you to offer the client exactly what he wants.

To really find out who your customers are, you need to gather demographic information. Using the polls wisely, you can find out the gender, age, the income level of the client, and so on, and then apply this knowledge to provide appropriate services.

For example, Disneyland found that 25 percent of their guests are not from the United States. Moreover, the park found that in particular Brazilian guests travel in large groups, stay together and often sing during the visit.

To improve the service provided to Brazilian guests, Disney trained Portuguese-speaking workers in Brazilian culture and habits. Also working as translators, workers allow large groups of Brazilians to better adapt, and even sing along with them!

Surveys reveal far not only what people are, but they can also show how they feel.

Psychographic information can help you understand the mental state of the client, his emotions, needs and desires, and, importantly, what he may already know about your company.

Through polls, Disney found that guests were often delighted at the entrance to the park, embraced by excitement, riding on Space Mountain, and exhausted at the end of a long day.

Knowing how customers feel, Disney can increase their enthusiasm for the biggest attractions, offer customers more places to sit and relax and make sure that a group of park staff enthusiastically welcomes guests at the entrance.

Disney Has Developed Three Different Solutions for the Queue Problem.

It doesn’t matter how delighted the theme park is, many people simply hate to stand in line for rides or shows for hours.

Disney understands this, so they devised solutions to the problem of waiting too long.

The first solution is to optimize the product and service process. This means organizing parks in such a way as to minimize waiting times. For example, some attractions may open earlier or later than usual, and some services may be available only to certain groups of customers.

Disney developed a program called Extra Magic Watches, in which every day, one of the four areas of the theme park opens an hour earlier and closes three hours later than the others. Moreover, Extra Magic Watches are only valid for guests who are permanently in the Disney resort.

The second solution to cope with the waiting time is to optimize the flow of guests. Disney allows guests to explore theme parks in their free time and according to their own wishes. Thus, guests can choose how much time they want to spend on each attraction.

To help guests manage their time, Disney sets up boards with tips in the centers of the park, which lists the main attractions and waiting times for each of them. It is important to note that the display shows slightly exaggerated values. This is justified by the fact that waiting less than expected is much more pleasant than more.

The third solution Disney recommends is queuing time optimization. No theme park can completely get rid of queues and waiting times. So it’s worthwhile to make the time spent waiting as pleasant as possible. Disney offers entertainment for guests standing in line.

For example, in the Jim Henson 3D Muppets show, guests in line are entertained

a twelve-minute screen show with antics of various muppet characters.

The Final Words

Creating and maintaining a successful business includes attention to customer behavior and acting according to their needs and desires. This ensures that you will meet customer expectations and maintain high standards of service.

Understand customer experiences by asking yourself what exactly the customer pays attention to when you are serving him. What does he see, hear, touch, and smell? How can you use this information to not only satisfy the client but to delight him?

Attention to customer behavior and action according to their needs is the key to success.

  • Become your customer. Imagine what she really wants. And embody it!
  • Make the time spent by the customer in line as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.

Why You Should Read “Be Our Guest”

Who needs this book?

  • To level your skills up in the entertainment field.
  • To generally, improve the service provided to your customers.
  • To improve customer overall experience.

This book is available as:

Audiobook | eBook | Print