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

Day Three: Building a Solid Service Culture

In the third and final article of a series about the Disney customer experience, Jeff Kober strolls through Disneyland and points out a few of the many, many details and themes that form the bedrock of Disney's service culture.

There's an expression at Disney that says 'everything speaks.'

You see this played out at Disneyland as you are immersed in thematic detail that you cannot find anywhere else. Many of those details and themes play a larger role than simply decor. Often, those themes underscore the great service culture needed to provide an outstanding customer experience at Disneyland.

In our Perfecting the Customer Experience workshop, we visit those places that teach us about creating a great service culture.

Here are just a few of the many stops we make.

Main Street, U.S.A.

At Disney, employees are not referred to as employees. Instead, they are known as Cast Members, since they all play a role in this very live stage experience known as Disneyland.

One display on Main Street, U.S.A. acts as a billboard for the Disneyland Casting Agency. Here we see listed many of the different roles Disneyland Cast Members perform in creating the magic - from riverboat pilots to elephant trainers whose elephants happen to fly.

One thing you could easily miss: under 'Announcements' there is a basketball club meeting at Matterhorn court. That's in reference to a basketball court that used to exist inside Matterhorn mountain, and served as a break area for Cast Members. It's all part of the very unique service culture at Disneyland.

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Billboard for the Disneyland Casting Agency showing the many different roles that Cast Members perform


The Partners statue of Walt and Mickey holdings hand in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle


Figaro the Cat from Pinocchio on the exit sign of the Village Haus restaurant in Fantasyland


Jeff points out Disney magic to a group in front of the Disneyland Casting Agency

Walt's inspiring quote on the window of the Disneyland Casting Agency

Farther down Main Street U.S.A., we reach the hub or center of the park. Here is a statue known as 'Partners' that depicts Walt and Mickey standing in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

This statue symbolizes a long-standing employee recognition program called Partners in Excellence. Recipients of this title receive a small statue of the same two figures to display in their home or office. Where guests see a photo-taking opportunity, Cast Members see a symbol that represents employee excellence.


We take a turn into Adventureland and come upon something we see very little of - a piece of trash sitting on a ledge. There is an expression known to all Disney Cast Members: Everyone Picks Up Trash.

This maxim not only serves to help keep the park clean, but expresses the view that to succeed, the organizational culture must in many ways be very flat - that at the heart of creating happiness for guests, all must pitch in to help.

Other programs reinforce this, such as during holiday and high peak attendance days, when management and office workers are sent into the park to help out with the Guest experience.

Critter Country

Moving deep into Critter Country we are reminded that it is hard to provide great service if you don't have great team work.

The Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes not only carry Guests around the Rivers of America, they play an annual role in Disneyland's canoe races. Here teams come together to race each other. It's just one of many events that serve to bring Disney Cast Members together.

Fantasyland and Figaro the Cat

After lunch at Village Haus restaurant in Fantasyland, we turn to leave. We note an exit sign being pulled by Figaro the Cat from Pinocchio.

The Imagineers who created this attraction got the exit sign wrong when they created the restaurant. One of the important facets of a great service culture is that it must be a great learning culture. Learning from one's mistakes is not just about recognizing the mistake and fixing it, but helping others to learn from those mistakes. Figaro assures us here that it's okay to make mistakes - especially if we can learn from them.

Back to Main Street

We return down Main Street U.S.A. to where we began, adjacent to the billboard for the Disneyland Casting Agency.

In our first article this week highlighting our Perfecting the Customer Experience program, we spoke about the windows on Main Street.

The window in this door offers a quote by Walt Disney:

"It takes people to make the dream a reality."

The ability to provide a great customer service experience at Disneyland is based on the company's ability to create a great service culture among its employees. As you walk through Disneyland, you can see examples of how that culture is made manifest. Yes, everything speaks. And all the language is around excellence. You may not be able to have your own river for canoe races, or build a basketball court inside a Swiss mountain, but you can create a strong service culture. Our program helps you to figure out how.

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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