Everyone who’s visited a Disney resort has either seen or heard of something like this. A child drops her box of popcorn all over the ground, and is obviously unhappy. A Cast Member sees this happen, goes over to the nearest popcorn cart, and returns to the unhappy child with a brand new popcorn box—all at no charge to the guest.
What can lawyers learn from this? Quite a few things.
First, Disney has trained all of its Cast Members to do what they can to make sure that no guest has a bad experience—even when it comes to something as small as a spilled popcorn box. For the guest on the receiving end, it feels like the Cast Member has gone above and beyond the call of duty, even though the Cast Member knows it’s not a difficult fix.
Second, Disney has trained its Cast Members that they have the authority to “spend Disney’s money” in order to make sure guests have a positive experience. A child whose snow globe might break could find a Cast Member giving her a new one (again, at no charge to the guest). Believe it or not, some guests at Disneyland spend all of their cash and realize that they don’t have money to pay for the cab fare home. The Disneyland guest relations staff is trained that they have the authority to provide cash to guests who are in dire straits. Disney obviously doesn’t advertise this fact, but they do it so that the guest has a positive experience.
Similarly, Disney doesn’t tell people that there are “rain checks” for when the weather is lousy, but if a guest asks about a refund because it started pouring, the Cast Member is authorized to give the guest a complimentary ticket.
In our law offices, support staff should be trained that they have the authority to do certain things for clients. Clients get frustrated when they call to ask for what seems like a simple request (like a copy of a letter that you sent out on their behalf last week) and hear from the staff that they’ll have to check with the attorney first. If this is happening in your office, you should make sure your staff knows what client requests really need to be run past you first and what requests can be fulfilled immediately.