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Mighty Mouse: 5 Lessons from Disney World That Can Improve Any Business

disney business secretsCHRIS TANKE
HNI Transportation Practice Leader & Associate Vice President

I was fortunate enough to take a short family vacation recently to Disney World. There is no place in the world quite like the “Magic Kingdom.” Walking around the park, I pondered how a company that started with a mouse has evolved into one of the premier customer service organizations in the world. As I sat at Space Mountain, eating cotton candy and waiting for my kids, I quickly jotted down five observations as to what makes the mouse great.

1. Customer service is king

In all my visits to Disney, I can't recall encountering one employee with a bad attitude. Everyone is always well trained and knows exactly what his or her job roles and responsibilities are. The employees are willing to go the extra mile (with a smile!) to make your visit the best it can be.

2. It's easy to do business

Park tickets are easily accessible via any one of many online, on-site, and off-site locales. Transportation to and from the park is not an issue. There are buses, a mono rail, and ferries transporting thousands of people seamlessly. The park hopper passes make it easy to get as much Disney in a day as humanly possible.

3. No detail is too small

Everything in the park looks fresh and new at all times. Cleanliness is incredible given the masses of people that pass through the gates every day. Not a thing at the Disney properties happens that was not scripted or planned to the smallest detail.

4. Boots are on the ground

I observed managers actively walking around the parks observing and making any necessary adjustments immediately. Managers also were picking up garbage as they went about their business. In fact, Disney has equipped these managers with small devices to more efficiently grab the bits of trash they observe during the day. While this may be small, I believe that this sets the tone among the workforce as to the level of excellence that is expected in their jobs.

5. Constant innovation is the norm

Disney is updating the parks to continually improve customer experience. Old stand-by attractions are given a face-lift. New attractions are created. Creative food choices are offered. New shows, parades, and characters keep Disney veterans coming back.

These observations may be due to a cotton candy overdose, but upon reflection, I believe that any business that can execute my five Disney observations is on a path to greatness. Consider these words of wisdom from Walt himself: “I dream, I test my dreams against my beliefs, I dare to take risks, and I execute my vision to make those dreams come true."

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Photo by Ross Hawkes via Flickr

Topics: Construction Transportation Manufacturing