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Applying Disney's Customer Service Model

Lacey Jackson
May 1, 2019
Min Read

When you think about how to give great customer service, what organizations stand out for you as examples? Maybe it’s your favorite Italian restaurant where the waiters know the best wine pairings. It could be your local coffee shop where the barista remembers your order with a smile. For many families across the globe, their greatest customer service experience happens at one of Disney’s famed parks.

This is not an accident. For years, Disney has worked to be the face of exemplary customer service. Part of their success is due to their inherent values and a foundational customer service plan that can be seen across all departments of their park.

Disney understands that its employees are really at the center of customer service.

You don’t just become the world’s most visited entertainment resort overnight. But you can start implementing a few key practices to turn your organization into a customer service leader.Walt Disney loved compasses, and to this day, compasses are featured across the Disney parks. Because of this, Disney’s customer service plan is modeled after a compass. They call the four areas where they focus their customer service energy The Disney Compass.

NORTH - Needs  ⎸WEST - Wants  ⎸SOUTH - Stereotypes  ⎸EAST - Emotions

Having a defined customer service plan is critical, and for Disney, the compass ensures they deliver the best possible experience to their customers.

  1. Needs: Identify your customers’ needs.

The first step in outlining an excellent customer service plan is identifying what your customers need when they approach your product or service. A great way to start is by compiling use cases for your product. What problems does your product or service solve? How is your product solving those problems?

Once these needs have been identified, they establish your organization’s “baseline.” You want to make sure your organization always meets the minimum needs you’ve identified.

Bonus tip: Once you’ve outlined a few case studies, make sure to highlight them on your website so you can share how your product/service solves problems!

  1. Wants: Anticipate your customers’ wants.

Make sure your team is focused on customer success. This will come from anticipating the wants of your customers. For Disney, this means identifying the preferences associated with customer needs. Are there features you could add to your product that would make it easier for customers to use? Could you be using more customer service surveys to better understand what would create the best possible experience for your clients?

Meeting the basic needs of your customers is the least you should be doing for customer service. Anticipating what your customer wants gives your organization the opportunity to go above and beyond the expected. This differentiates you from other companies, giving your customers a reason to return and eventually converting them to loyal, brand ambassadors.

  1. Stereotypes: Understand the negative impressions customers might harbor about your business.

The average customer approaches your business with a set of stereotypes at the front of their mind. For dentists, a stereotype might be that the visits are always expensive and time-consuming. Understanding the negative impressions customers might hold about your business gives you a chance to subvert them. If you’re a legal organization, this might mean automating your processes so that clients receive their paperwork faster and with less errors. For doctors, this might mean putting your intake forms online so patients can fill them out on their computer or phone ahead of their visit. Take the time to really understand how your clients approach your product, service, or industry. In the end, you’ll stand out as an outlier.

  1. Emotions: Tap into customer emotions.

    The last rung in The Disney Compass is emotions. These days, many industries are saturated with companies selling the same or similar products/services. You need to give your customers a reason to choose your organization over all of the others. For Disney, this means locking into the nostalgia associated with their park. It's important to tap into what your customers experience when they use your product. If your tool is meant to enhance feelings of productivity and efficiency, you want to ensure the customer experience maximizes those positive emotions. Customers return to the products they love because they had a great experience and associate positive emotions with those products.

The Disney Compass is a great way to guide your business through the customer journey.  Once you understand your organization in the context of these four areas, you can improve your customers’ overall experience. Try starting with some customer service automation through Formstack Documents. Dive in today with a free trial.


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Lacey Jackson
Lacey is a Product Marketing Manager at Formstack who is dedicated to creating content that showcases the power of the Formstack Platform. When she’s not creating Formstack Builders tutorials, she can be found reading, playing board games, or strolling with her dog. Lacey is a graduate of Franklin College.
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