In preparation for our first week of summer camp at Schaumburg Christian Day Camp, I’ve been training my staff using business tips from Walt Disney himself. Now, lest you fear that I am preparing a group of Christian counselors with the mere musing of the Mouse Man . . . do not tremble my brethren.
Here’s the thing: Most of Disney’s principles on running a successful business and growing a customer base can really preach! Isn’t that so often the case? Any time the world finds something truly amazing, earth-shattering, and guaranteed to work every time . . . we find out God’s been saying it all along.
Let’s look at a couple of Disney’s precepts and see how they compare with the Ultimate’s precepts.
1. “Two Ears, two eyes, and one mouth, use them in that ratio.” James is not the first biblical writer to warn us of the evils of the tongue. Proverbs overflows with admonitions such as this. Disney Cast Members (employees) are instructed to hear the Guest (customer) out. Listen to hear the real need and meet it as efficiently as possible. They are also told to watch their speech in front of the guests who have come to Disney World to escape the baser things of life, not to hear Cinderella lamb-basting Jasmine because she won’t cover her shift.
2. Make “Wow Moments“ by exceeding the guest’s expectations. This particular ideal has much in common with Panera Bread Company’s “We break any rule to satisfy a customer.” Here’s how it works – a customer complains that their sandwich wasn’t made correctly. Of course, the associate (employee) is listening intently so as to know how best to fix the problem. What is the customer expecting? They obviously want a sandwich made the right way. If the sandwich-shop employee remakes the sandwich, is that going to “wow” the customer? No. All he’s doing is meeting an expectation. An expectation, mind you, that wasn’t met correctly the first time. So, how do you wow such a customer? You give them what they expect, and the drop something on them they don’t. “I’m sorry your sandwich wasn’t made correctly. Here’s the corrected sandwich and a fresh pastry do show you how sorry we are.”
In that moment, the customer (no matter how miffed they were) can’t help but look a little surprised. They weren’t expecting that. They were “wowed.”
Where’s the biblical principle? Everywhere. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another.” Providing solely what is expected is not kindness, it’s common sense. Kindness exceeds the expectation. I Peter 2:20 tells us, “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.” What does it matter if we patiently bear up under a tongue lashing we deserve? But if we smile and speak gracious words in love when that customer berates us, we’ve not only created a “wow moment,” but we’ve found favor with God in the process.
Time would fail us to speak on not taking vengeance on poor tippers, heaping coals of fire on the heads of messy children, loving our enemies who tell the boss we weren’t doing our jobs, and doing all to the glory of God whether I’m eating and drinking on break or serving soup.
3. “What time is the 3 o’clock parade?” Disney used this very common question at Disney World to reinforce the above points, and then teach a little about giving the benefit of the doubt. The answer to the question seems clear, but how often have we found ourselves asking stupid questions (it doesn’t matter what your teacher said, they do exist)? My administrative assistant used to work for the USPS where she was frequently asked if they sold stamps. Ouch. But here’s the thing. Disney taught his people to see beyond the question. They needed to give the guest the benefit of the doubt that they really didn’t see the obvious answer but were desirous for assistance. A heart of respect and love keeps us from responding rudely when confronted by perceived idiocy. Instead, we realize that a real person is seeking a real answer.
The second part of this was the Cast Member was encouraged to “add value” to their answer. “The parade starts at three, and the best place to view it from is . . . .” Not only did they give the helpful answer, they gave the guest the wow moment they weren’t expecting.
The point is this, Christians should be the quintessential experts on all things customer service. Yes, the Bible is sufficient for on the job conflict as well. We should be the most kind, the most helpful, the most forgiving, the most sacrificial, the most friendly, the most joyful, and the most productive individuals on the planet. Why? Because we have been created by God to be so, commanded by God to be so, and empowered by God to be so!