Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Suckers for Authenticity

Recently, my family and I stayed on a Disney property in Orlando. Our first morning, I called downstairs to try to arrange a schedule for the day. Like most customers who don’t fit into a vendor’s carefully developed standardized “plan”, our wishes (for which we were fully prepared to pay) had some unique twists. Repeatedly, the “cast member” (Disney-speak) at the other end told me, without a drop of empathy and without a single “how about this?” alternative suggestion, that no--she couldn’t do that; no, she couldn’t answer that; no, that wasn’t her office’s responsibility; no, she couldn’t tell me who to talk with; no, no, no, no…. After 15 minutes, I was so frustrated that I finally blurted out: “I’m paying an arm and a leg for a deluxe room on your premium floor, and you’re telling me you can’t do anything for me, can you?” Her response, without a shred of embarrassment, was “That’s right.” My rejoinder was a snappy “I’m really disappointed. Good bye.” And then do you know what she said—mechanically, emotionless-- right before I hung up?

I kid you not: “Have a magical day.”

Read the rest of Oren Harari on authenticity and the customer experience.


Larry Sheldon said...

That is unbelievably sad.

I also think that that has Walt spinning in his grave.

I have daughters that worked at Great America (Santa Clara) some years ago and they would never have done something like that. Yes I know, not Disney, but the Disney model was clearly their vision.

One of the things (of many) that impressed me was one of them worked for a while in "Guest Services" which among other things was charged was converting (at what ever cost) an unhappy guest into a happy guest with a strong incentive to come back another day and give them another chance. The kids handled the problem cases without supervision.

If the "fix" was extraordinarily expensive, they might be asked "did you consider....?", after the fact, but they would never be faulted.

(Another thing that impressed? Visiting the park on their days off, they picked up loose trash and dropped it in a can--if they could get to it before a sweeper did. There were other things.)

DarkoV said...

Thanks for the link!

I was surprised to come to the end of the piece and read this:
"The author does not allow comments to this entry"

Hmmmm, a case of "Do as I write, not Do as I Do"? That's the Do-Do (pun intended) variation of advice-giving.

Michael Wade said...


You're right. Walt is spinning in his grave. Having experienced excellent service at Disney, I think this example is a rare exception.


Very good point!