What Your Business Can Learn from Disney’s Faux Pas

My husband and I have been planning a trip to Walt Disney World for close to a year now. The occasion? An early birthday present for our soon-to-be 6-year-old daughter.

Cinderella gives Hannah a hug during her fourth birthday party.
Cinderella gives Hannah a hug during her fourth birthday party.

Six months in advance of our departure date we went online at 6 a.m. for the highly coveted dining reservations. After about an hour of frustration we were successful in reserving the bulk of what we wanted.

Sixty days in advance I followed the same reservation scheme, but this time for fast passes for character meet and greets and other attractions.

Getting an autograph from Anna and Elsa is not simply a meet and greet it’s a character experience at Walt Disney World.

Yet, simple requests that we made have been met with various responses including “not an option.” We have reservations for breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table. It’s a so-called character experience with Cinderella in attendance. One of the add-ons is to purchase a $65 glass slipper that can be presented during the meal.

We requested that 1). Cinderella present the slipper to our daughter and 2). That the slipper be personalized with engraving. Even though we are willing to pay for both of these things, we have been told, several times through email, that they are “not an option.”

A “royal attendant” could present it to my daughter, but we would need to take it to a shop at a later time for engraving. When I was insistent about the engraving the woman emailed me to say that I could order a slipper

A glass slipper elegant enough for presentation by Cinderella herself ...
A glass slipper elegant enough for presentation by Cinderella herself …

directly from the shop and have it engraved, but then it would not be able to be presented to my daughter. Instead, it would be sitting at the table when she arrived.

Somewhere along the way the folks at Walt Disney World lost the importance of the experience of visiting their amusement parks.

I’m sharing the faux pas of Disney to illustrate that, as a business, you will unfortunately be remembered more often for your fumbles than for the things you do right.

With that in mind, how are you keeping your customers happy? Your business may not revolve around glass slippers and fairy tale princesses, but the people who purchase your products and services still deserve – and demand – to be treated like people.

There is, unfortunately, no magic potion to know if you’re doing it right. A simple way to know if your customers are happy is to ask them. Surveys are a great way to get honest feedback.

You could also just pick up the phone and call a cross-section of your long-time customers. If they report that something isn’t up to par, I would suggest keeping an open mind and not peppering the conversation with phrases like “not an option.”

Remember, your customers always have the option of doing business with someone else.

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