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.

Learn More...

FROM: Perfecting the Customer Experience A Disney Dispatch Feature

Ted Topping and the Disney Customer Experience

Everyone knows that Disney provides a fantastic customer experience, perhaps the best of its kind in the world. But knowing and doing are two different things. How to take what you know and do it for your organization? Ted Topping has some ideas.

I recently interviewed J. Jeff Kober, author of The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney, about Perfecting the Customer Experience, the new program he will facilitate with Ted Topping from April 26 to 28 at Disneyland.

Jeff Kober is a familiar name to many Disney fans. Ted Topping is not.

Let's get to know Ted...

How did you become interested in the business side of Disney?

TED: Years ago, I read In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman. Like many business people at the time, I was amazed to learn that new employees at Walt Disney World spent a week in orientation and training before getting anywhere near a customer. In the retail world that I worked in, new employees typically spent something like 45 minutes before they got onto the selling floor. And much of that time was spent completing the required paperwork.
In Search of Excellence made me aware that the people side of any business is a key driver of success, and that Disney was one company that really believed it.

Why is it worthwhile to benchmark Disney?

TED: My book, Start and Run a Retail Business, has stood out in the market through three editions because it does not sugar-coat the subject. The book's advice and strategies are based on 'best in class' companies because anyone operating a retail business today will be competing with the biggest and smartest retailers in the world.
In Perfecting the Customer Experience, Jeff Kober and I will also be sharing best-in-class business lessons. This is serious and practical stuff, even if it is in the fun environment of Disneyland.

Why is it important to experience service from 'the other side of the counter?'

TED: As part of the Innovative Merchandising workshop I lead for retail clients, we spend a full day mystery shopping in up to 25 stores. We become 'customers' instead of 'managers,' and experience first-hand what it is like to stand on the other side of the counter.
The inevitable conclusion for most participants: the logic and structure that defines the process of business - everything from spreadsheets to shelf allocations to scanners - merely supports the emotions that rule the selling floor.
This is especially true for retailers who have no choice but to follow the Best Service Strategy (Best Price and Best Selection no longer being valid options for most). Retail is truly a people business driven by emotions. The fact that Disney delivers an almost totally emotional customer experience makes it a great example to study.

Hasn't the notion of 'customer service' become hackneyed?

TED: In the current economy, many businesses ignore the need to provide superior customer service. Their reasons tend to focus on two areas:
  1. It costs money that they do not have, and
  2. There is little point in training people who will not be with them in three months.
That is how we get to the sort of cross-communication that we see in the Disney-Pixar movie Up.
When 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen first opens the door to 8-year-old Russell, the young Wilderness Explorer proceeds to offer every kind of assistance he can think of: "I could help you cross the street. Your yard. Your porch. Or something." None of which Carl wants, and the exchange ends with him closing the door.
Bringing this back to today's business world, the only service that works is the service that is appropriate to the customer who patronizes the business. It is that simple - yet difficult to provide consistently. As customers, we know there is nothing 'hackneyed' about service. It works today perhaps better than ever before.

Tell me how all that relates to Disneyland.

TED: The secret to Disney's success in delivering the world's most enduring and successful consumer experiences for the past six decades isn't promotion or pixie dust. It is an enthusiastic and motivated workforce operating on a solid foundation of delivery systems and customer-experience metrics - motivation, systems, and metrics that can be learned and implemented in any size business.

Are all of your customer-experience lessons from Disney?

TED: No, but we do stick with brands that people have probably experienced and know well. Most companies do not realize that the super-effective tactics of leading brands such as Disney, Apple, and Cirque Du Soleil can be learned and implemented in any size of business. In this upcoming Disney program, we will benchmark one of the world's most successful companies, and discover how quality (attention to details) and service (exceeding guest expectations) are built in, not separate from, the product being sold.

To find out more, contact either Jeff or Ted, or download the PDF event brochure from:

Jeff Kober
Performance Journeys, Orlando, FL
Performance Journeys

Ted Topping
Creative Insights Inc., Vancouver, BC
Ted Topping

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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