what I learned from Disney World: Leadership edition - pt 3

Continuing the series I started this week, here is part three of 7 things I learned from Disney World: Leadership edition. (Part three "Personal Edition" can be found here)

Day 3: Hollywood Studio - Part 1

Not every guest is happy.

On this day of the trip, my family celebrated my oldest son turning eight. This meant a special character breakfast in the morning and a day at Hollywood Studios. Make no mistake about it, it was an amazing day.

There were two things that do stand out on the negative, though.
  • At Pizza Planet (a restaurant based on a place in the movie Toy Story), I ordered lunch in a hurry to beat the rush of people coming in. When I got up to the counter, though, the order wasn't what was in my head (and I assume, what I actually told the cashier). So I had to backtrack and reorder what I'd missed. Given the line of people that began to form, the cashier began to show frustration through what I'd expected to be a solid Disney smile.

    As this happened, she had to refund the whole order to my Disney debit card... then I had to order it all over again. Apparently I couldn't just make an additional order... the whole thing had to be redone. If you've ever ordered a large meal for several people with specific preferences, you know this is no small task.

  • Given a promotion Disney was running, we were given a gift card to spend on merchandise in the park. Naturally, my sons thought this would be a great chance to stock up on some Star Wars merchandise. Normally we wouldn't spring for the cost of something as expensive as a Boba Fett helmet, but the sign near it said it was on sale and we had the card to cover the rest.

    Only it wasn't on sale... at least, that's what we were told. I ended up talking with a manager who told me that while I had a decent argument about the sign's proximity to the merchandise and its inference about its discount, there was "nothing (he) could do about it." Apparently Disney locks even managers out of doing manual discounts on a cash register as a way to control customers who may try to haggle a sale they shouldn't have.

    I'd already told my son he could have the helmet, and I wasn't about to go back on my word as a dad. I let the manager know I didn't appreciate being put in that position, to which he again apologized... and that's all he did.

In both of these situations, I felt I was right. With ordering lunch, I'm quite sure I ordered it correctly and the sign in the store definitely baited me in to think I was about to get a deal. When I spoke with the people in charge, though, my discontent didn't change the policy. I know the customer isn't always right and people do abuse the system, but I was a bit surprised at how protective Disney was of their methodologies.

In hindsight, I realize that I shouldn't expect anything different, even from Disney. While they spend a large amount of effort trying to over-please their customers, they will not do so at the expense of losing themselves in the process. A line is drawn that says, "This is the happiest place on earth, but not everyone will be happy here all the time."

Throughout the rest of my stay I saw this in other people who also would have the occasional run-in with what they thought would happen versus what Disney said would be allowed to happen. Keep in mind, while each situation had a measure of discontent, I'd argue that each of these people (along with myself) still walked away thinking overall that Disney was for them in service.

Did you catch that? Not every guest gets what they want in each situation, but they ultimately get what they want in the overall experience.

So I've generated these questions to ponder:

  • Do you know the difference between situational discontentment versus overall discontentment?

  • Is there allowance in your household/organization for people to voice their frustrations and be met with a genuine, empathetic response?

  • When does it make sense to change your policy to serve one person?

  • When does it make sense to keep your policy to serve many people?

By the way... that morning I'd asked if Goofy could bring out my son's gift bag, but was told of another policy that says characters can't bring anything to the table.

And yet... Goofy did bring out his gift bag.


- Part 3 tomorrow.

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