- Tue, February 26 2008
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
I read an interesting story in the Washington Post today. Apparently marketing staff from Disney are training Walter Reed staff in customer service. The hospital serving wounded soldiers has made headlines for its poor conditions and crippling bureaucracy.
The Mouseketeer Marketers apparently say it’s all about the audience. No magic there - just smart marketing. Customer service makes all the difference - just ask Snow White.
[Kris Lafferty, a trainer for the Disney Institute], who was a Navy lawyer before she started a second career with Disney, led the audience in a discussion of similarities between Disney and the Army hospital. (Both are dedicated to “making people feel better”; both are “subject to media scrutiny”; both are named after famous people named Walter. )
The Walter Reed employees learned the Disney lexicon. Employees are called “cast members.” Customers—or patients—are “guests.”
Then it was on to what Lafferty called the “Disney difference”: “You have to know and understand your guests.”
Much of it involves paying attention to details that matter to patients and visitors, Lafferty noted. “If I go to the doctor’s office and all the plants are dead, I don’t have a good feeling,” she said.
A wheelchair with frayed padding on the arm rests leaves a lasting impression, Donnelly said.
As a contrast to the irate Donald Duck, the trainers showed a slide of a beatific Snow White, holding a broom in a spic-and-span room and surrounded by happy animals. (Lesson: “You can’t sweep it under the rug,” Lafferty said.)
During breaks, some Walter Reed employees expressed surprise at the relevance of the training to their jobs.
“This is good,” said Jan Yatsko, head nurse for vascular surgery at the hospital. “It’s not what we expected.”
I think it’s sound advice - at a price. Apparently the Disney training is around $800,000. So let me save you some money: Listen to Snow White. Your customer service really, really matters. It’s true in the Magic Kingdom, it’s true for the famlies of wounded soldiers, and it’s true for charities.
The main reason donors quit supporting a charity is HOW THEY WERE TREATED BY THAT CHARITY. How people experience you when they give, when they call you and when they benefit from your programs is everything. Give to your own charity and see what happens. If you provide human services, use them as a visitor. This may be depressing. I have yet to work for any organization that is consistently fantastic at customer service - and it’s especially hard for small, underfunded organizations. But we can’t afford not to try better.