How Disney’s mindset lays the foundation for great service

Think for a moment about the last time you went into a big box store like Best Buy. If you need help with something you bought, where do you go? To the counter labeled “customer service.”

If you’ve visited a Disney resort, try to think where the customer service desk is located. If you’re there now while you’re reading this, ask one of the Cast Members where the customer service desk is.

There isn’t one.

If you ask a Cast Member to point you to “customer service,” you’re going to be directed to the Guest Relations office or desk. Disney does not ever use the term “customer,” and it eschews the idea of “customer service.”

Instead, Disney’s philosophy is that every visitor is not a customer. Instead, every visitor is a guest. Is there a difference? Think about it. What do you want as a customer? A product in exchange for your money. It’s a business transaction, nothing more. Does Disney simply want to take the money from its customers? While Disney is happy to take your money, Disney wants more than that. Disney wants to build a long-term relationship with you. Part of the way they do that is by treating you as a guest in their resort—just as you would treat a guest in your home. This idea goes back to Walt Disney himself.

How does this idea apply to the law practice? You probably already know the answer: We lawyers will benefit most by building a long-term relationship with our clients. When they come to see us, we should treat them as guests: with top-notch manners, a warm smile, a cup of coffee.

Just as Disney thinks of its customers as guests, we need to think of our clients as something more than that. A client is someone we do work for in exchange for money. I haven’t found the right word to replace “client” yet, but I’m open to suggestions.

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