by Karey Rees

I recently returned from a fun vacation to Disney World with my family. Every time I go to a Disney park I am in awe at the outward level of friendliness, happiness and willingness to help others from all employees. Over our week-long stay I witnessed several instances where the employees kept their composure during times of customer dissatisfaction (justified and unjustified) and unusual or outlandish demands. Through listening to these customer and employee exchanges, it really made me think about what if everyone conveyed this level of customer service – what a better workplace, business, consultant, employee, vendor, etc. they would be.

One particular instance I witnessed was an older woman yelling (voice raised with children and grandchildren in tow) at a hostess restaurant employee about how their table was given up for a dinner reservation that they hadn’t shown up for 40 minutes earlier. The woman was very angry they didn’t hold the table for them for 40 minutes while they were wandering throughout the park. I think most of us have experienced being late for a reservation and most establishments will hold a table for 15 minutes, but 40? I thought it was completely reasonable for the restaurant to give their table to another party.

The customer demanded to speak to a manager after first completely wearing down the hostess. When the manager came to speak to her she was quickly briefed about the issue and came to this woman with a smile. The manager explained that when you make your reservations you agree to check in by your reservation time and if you don’t, part of that agreement is you lose your reservation. Before the customer could even respond to her, the manager immediately followed with promising to get them seated as soon as they could (within 10 minutes) and that the woman’s day going forward should be wonderful as the reservation “fix” would be the start of an amazing remainder of the day.

I think we can all agree that as a matter of principle, the family probably should not have gotten seated without a longer wait after such a long time elapsed from their original reservation. This however, is how Disney seems to get people coming back — the knowledge that wherever a person goes or whatever they do, Disney’s customer service will be outstanding.

Wouldn’t we all like to have a reputation for amazing customer service and relations? Consider the above Disney scenario in a business environment. Everyone has a “customer”. Really, a customer could be seen as a client, co-worker, boss, another branch of business, etc. Think of who you consider to be your immediate customer. Now expand that and think of everyone involved in the work or project you have in mind. Consider everyone who interacts with you or relies on your for something; in other words, your “customer”. What can you do as an office worker to apply the principle I talked about above to provide better customer service to your audience?

I’ve experienced similar instances where the vendor or a team-member on an important project has made a mistake, but they fix it, and fix it perfectly. Those who fix their mistakes with understanding, a happy attitude and in a timely manner always keep me coming back to them for future projects or insight. I think there is a lot to be said about mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, but those who fix them, and fix them right, sometimes might just be as good or even better than those who don’t make mistakes at all (but that’s a different subject for a different time.)

Provide to your “customers” a smile, can-do attitude, and always fix the wrongs into rights. When you provide assistance and deliver with a positive attitude your “customer” can’t help but to turn to you for all future projects, assignments, etc.

I challenge you for just one day to go through the day with a smile, carry a happy and pleasant attitude and see what happens.

What types of extraordinary customer service have you experienced or witnessed in the workplace?

Want to learn more about how who your customers are and how you can develop a strategy for delivering results? Check out Forward Momentum’s course on High Performance Customer Service.

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