My family goes to Walt Disney World every year. I am always amazed at how friendly the “cast member” (that’s how Disney refers to employees which is just another factor in their success story), how clean the parks are, and how efficient they are able to move a lot of people through without giving the impression of being herded. Sure the food is expensive, there is a gift shop at the end of every ride, but you still feel like you are special when you go. Before you start throwing stones at them for their faults, think about how you are with your time sheets, turf wars, and change requests. After all, we are all in business of some sort.
There are so many lessons we can learn from a visit to the parks, too many for a single blog post (maybe there is a series coming of how we can apply better customer service to IT). But there is one story that absolutely leaps out at me.
Not the point of this post, but I have to set the stage. Several years ago, while stopping in Mickey’s Fire House to see if any new shirts had come in since my last visit, and I noticed a woman lying on her back in obvious pain. I told my kids to go stand over to the side, and stopped to see if I could help her. (For those of you who might not know, I am a Part-time Firefighter/Paramedic for a large township in Ohio that is extremely busy.) It was apparent that she needed to go to the hospital, very likely having a broken hip. I encouraged the cast member that was there to get a squad there “riki-tik” (very quickly) because she needed advanced care. I helped the EMT’s package her up and saw her on her way to the ER.
As a thank you, one of the things the cast did was give me a Tinkerbelle pin that is only available for “Doing a Good Deed”. Not given to cast members, not available in stores, etc. (We also got some free snacks and VIP seats for Disney’s Fantasmic, which is what the kids cared about). I am not a pin collector, but I wore that pin proudly on my boonie hat ever since that day. It’s why I joined the fire service – not for the pay (which is minimal), but to help people. My children would often tell the story to their friends about how I got that pin. Hopefully, the urge to help others grows with each retelling of the story.
Ok, back to the present. On this last trip to Disney, my Tinkerbelle pin broke. I was able to recover the pieces, but there was no repairing it. On a whim, I stopped into Customer Service, explained that my pin had broken, and that I was hoping against hope that they had another one. The lady helping me recognized the pin, and said they are pretty difficult to locate, but if I gave my name and address she would send me one if she could locate it. I did, figuring it was the typical “Sorry about your luck” blow off, and left. After all, it wasn’t their fault my pin broke (for the record it was the permanent pin back that was the culprit).
Today, in the mail, I received a package from WDW with a new pin (the exact one that I broke) and a simple note:
It took me a little while, but I found the pin you were looking for. Hope you like it!
Beatriz (Guest Relations)”
It made me pause. How many times do we say “I’ll get back to you” and never do? How many times do we say it knowing that we will never follow through?
How much better would our relations be with our customers, our co-workers, our friends, if we actually followed through? On emails, phone calls, code reviews (which reminds me, I need to look at a friends code)?
When you promise to do something, be like Disney. Simply do it.