Before we start let me just clarify that I’m not about to call for the wholesales removal of cleaners from their current employment. Nothing of the sort. But I do want to talk about empowerment and ownership in relation to the customer experience. However, let me explain the cleaners reference though.
At Disney, they obviously have cleaners which probably comes as no surprise, and they’re as integral as playing a part in the customer experience as all the other ‘cast members’ are. However it doesn’t end there. The customer experience, as taught thoroughly to cast members through the Disney Institute is everyone’s responsibility and everyone plays a role in the systems and processes that support consistently exceptional customer experiences.
To this end, everyone is expected to pick rubbish up the moment they see it, rather than wait for the cleaners to do it. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Litter doesn’t feature in fairy stories and nor does it feature at Disney Land. It’s immediately taken out of the equation restoring the immediate environment back to the fairy tale landscape it was to start with.
To me this, says as much about culture as it does about systems and processes and who’s ultimately responsible for picking the litter up. The answer of course is that everyone is. But the culture also says, “we’re all responsible for the customer experience, and we’re all empowered to act in a way that ensures the customer’s experience stays great each and every time”
There’s no aspect of the culture that supports the ” it’s not my job to pick up the litter, that’s the cleaners job” type mentality. Rather it’s the culture that says “we can all have a positive impact on the customer through the way we act and behave”. That’s a seriously strong set of value to operate by.
Compare that to many businesses, both large and small, where it’s self evident that they have’t got anything near the Disney approach to culture. Where instead, the culture supports and reinforces (deliberately or otherwise) the opposite to Disney. I’ve heard this first hand “I’m not calling the customer because that’s not my job. The customer cervices team should do it” or “I’m not in customer services.”
Let me say this. Firstly we’re all in customer services, (like we’re all in sales as Dan Pink writes) whether we like it or not.
Secondly, it doesn’t matter who makes the call (or picks the litter up) as long as it’s done as quickly and efficiently as possible to benefit the customer.
But often, business culture doesn’t support this for many reasons; a silo culture, lack of suitably strong values that people don’t take ownership of, a lack of responsibility and leadership to name but a few.
But it can be done and Disney continue to prove it and the template is there to be copied and adapted to fit; leadership, culture and values delivered through systems and process that enable and empower people, rather than restrict or constrict them.
You don’t need to be the scale or have the budgets of Disney to delivery a Disney- esque experience though. With the right framework in place, with the right people (your own team of ‘incredibles’, passion and energy to deliver a superior operation, and a few ‘believers’ to drive the customer experience vision you could create your own version of the Disney experience.
How about putting that at the top of your ‘to do’ list for Monday? (and please don’t sack any cleaners!)
Ownership, empowerment, responsibility of the customer experience by everyone not just customer facing teams.
Litter at Disney