Perfecting the Customer Experience is a unique, three day benchmarking program held twice a year in Anaheim California. The workshop provides open enrollment participants serious business lessons in a fun, immersive environment.

Your facilitators, Jeff Kober and Ted Topping are your hosts in this intense, small group program that allows participants to see the business behind the wonder of Disney.

Participants walk away with new ideas for taking their organization, whether in the public, private, or non-profit sector, to new heights.

Jeff Kober views business from a Disney background. Ted Topping views Disney from a business background. Together they will help you experience both from the crucial perspective of your customer.

Formerly a leader with the Disney Institute, Jeff Kober, president of Performance Journeys, has authored several books and apps on building strong brands and developing high performing cultures.

Ted Topping is president of Creative Insights, a service-design consulting firm in Vancouver. Known globally for his work in retail, he is author of the best-selling book Start and Run a Retail Business and numerous magazine articles.

As authors, speakers, and consultants, both Jeff and Ted work with organizations to create sustained results in a consumer-facing business.

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FROM: Perfecting the Customer Experience A Disney Dispatch Feature

Guest Service Foundations at Disneyland

Jeff Kober shares a letter written years ago by a Disneyland Guest about his visit to the park. The things that he describes are still the very foundations of customer service, the things that make Disney and any other organization succeed.



Before Disneyland was built, Walt would take his daughters to a park and watch them on the merry-go-round. As he sat there eating peanuts, he would think about how there must be some enterprise that could be built that both parents and children could enjoy together.

Did Walt accomplish his objective? Perhaps that could be answered in part by this guest letter that Disneyland used for many years as a training tool.

The author, a Mr. Schuch, supervised American Airlines ticket agents and baggage handlers, and wrote the letter to inspire his own employees.


American Airlines, Inc.
December 6, 1957

To: All Terminal Service Personnel
From: Superintendent-Terminal Service - LAX
Subject: Customer Service

“I recently broke down and finally agreed to take my family on an outing to Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom – Disneyland. Many of you have already been there and no doubt have made the same observations that I am going to talk about, but I thought some of you might be interested in the marvelous reaction that my family received from this visit.

“...My two daughters, ages 3 and 5, made a beeline for Fantasyland and surprised me by heading for the cheapest ride in the park – a ten-cent whirl on King Arthur’s Carrousel. We noticed that every attendant was in immaculate uniform. They took charge of our kiddies at the entrance, placed them on their horses, strapped them on, and gave them a big reassuring smile. After they rode in circles for several minutes, the same attendants gave them another big smile, helped them down and gave each one a little pat on the back as they left. My oldest daughter made this comment, ‘I don't want to ride on the merry-go-round at Redondo Beach anymore, daddy, because the man there isn’t as nice as that man.’ Here is service having an impact on a five year old, but Walt Disney’s standards are high and ten cents is still a piece of revenue.

click an image to expand:


A bench taken from the park that Walt used to visit with his children, now located at The Disneyland Story and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Turtle Talk

King Arthur's Carrousel awaiting Guests. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Nautical Exploration Sub

Monstro awaits his next canal boat victims at Storybook Land. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

“The next thing that caught the children’s eye was the Canal Boat Ride through Storybook Land, and they insisted that mom and dad join them. Wow – $1.20 for seven minutes, but it was worth it. A fantastic ride that enabled you to relive your youth. What impressed me most? When we disembarked from the canal boat, the lady attendant – and I repeat ‘lady’ – assisted my children and my wife to dry land. She didn’t stop there, however, because all of a sudden I felt that she had hold of my left arm and was assisting me to the wharf. What service I thought –this and this alone was worth $1.20.

“We spent seven hours in this Magic Fairy Land and at every turn we noticed the same immaculate uniforms and the same outstanding courtesy being shown to every one of Walt Disney’s guests.

“Something else that impressed us: the cleanliness of the entire area. There isn’t an ash receptacle in the park, and I was looking for them, but there wasn’t a cigarette butt in sight. All the equipment was in excellent repair with not a trace of dust. The brass was polished to a high luster on the perfect replica of the old-time railroad that encircles the park. The windows on the train were so clean that they sparkled.

“All of this might sound corny, and it also might convey the thought I have a side line job as one of Disney’s public relations representatives. This, of course, is not true. His Magic Kingdom impressed us so much that I could not help comparing his operation with that of American Airlines. His standards of service must be extremely high. He must screen and re-screen every employee that applies for a job. There must be a constant inspection activity going on, otherwise, his domain would not present such an appearance or his employees would not offer such outstanding service.

“We were impressed – not just with the fantasy, the splashes of vivid color or the immensity of the operation. No, this didn’t impress us half as much as the things that are outlined above.

“We will all go back to Disneyland – the service is terrific.”
(signed) O. A. Schuch


Service today is defined somewhat differently then Mr. Schuch described it back in 1957. Still, the foundations are important. Whether it’s maintaining a great product, or offering attentive service, or simply providing a smile. Those things don’t go away. That’s the experience Walt wanted to create. They are the foundations that make Disneyland succeed. Indeed, they are the foundations that make any organization succeed.


Ask Yourself:

  • What are the foundations of great customer service that make our organization succeed?
  • How do we attend to those details?
  • How does the application of those foundations evolve over time?


For more information about Perfecting the Customer Experience, please contact Jeff Kober or Ted Topping. The next public programs are September 27 to 29, 2011 and February 21 to 23, 2012. Companies may prefer a private, tailored experience. Neither the program nor its facilitators are associated in any way with The Walt Disney Company.

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