“Lessons from the Mouse”
Dennis Snow, the author of the business book “Lessons from the Mouse,” spent roughly 20 years at Disney, working his way up from playing Captain Nemo (driving the submarine) and staffing the “It’s a Small World” ride to management. Now, as the head of Snow & Associates Inc. and a well-known author and speaker, he has translated many of the lessons he learned there (and elsewhere) into practical and immediately implementable advice on how to make customers come back.
Customer loyalty is often inspired not by a company’s product, Snow says, but by exceptional service, or friendliness, or even cleanliness (which many people mention about Disneyland). “In everything that we do,” he advises, “we should do it with an ‘experience’ mentality, not a ‘task’ approach. That makes customers feel valued, not processed.”
He relies on three key principles to make customers come back.
First, look at everything you do as though you are a customer. Keep in mind that your customers do not know everything that you know—never assume that they understand it all. He recommends a “service mapping” exercise: Look at every one of your processes and map the flow of each step. Then ask: What does excellent service look like at this step? What does mediocre service look like? (He provided a personal example that amused the audience greatly: on a plane trip, his 3-year-old son’s ears were hurting. His wife didn’t have any gum to help his ears pop, so she handed him an m&m and told him it would help. His son looked at it doubtfully, sniffed “okay”—and put the m&m in his ear!
Second, pay attention to the details: “Everything speaks.” Snow showed a photo of a commercial plane with duct tape all over the wing; the plane was probably perfectly safe, but virtually every passenger noticed it—and may have had strong doubts about ever again flying with that carrier. Visiting Cinderella’s castle in Disneyland and approaching a costumed Cinderella who turns around with a cigarette in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other and says “I’m on my break, kid” is a long-term brand killer.
Third, create moments of “wow.” Especially little “wows.” The little things add up. Customers expect, always, accuracy and availability. But when customer service reaches the level of partnership, and when you are able to offer them advice and teach them something to help them do their jobs, that’s the kind of behavior that brings customers back.
There’s a process to improving customer loyalty—and it doesn’t always require money. What it needs is a team that examines every process, and is committed to improving each one.
For more information on Dennis Snow and his company, please visit http://www.snowassociates.com/index.asp.
Galynn Nordstrom is senior editor of Specialty Fabrics Review magazine.