Making Service Your Trademark

“Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see it, they will want to come back to see you do it again, and they will want to bring others to show them how well you do what you do.”  --  Walt Disney

I saw this quote in a stairwell while at a meeting with Disney in Orlando and was struck by its clarity, its simplicity and the passion it implies. I have thought a lot about this quote since my visit to Disney. On the surface, it is clear how it applies to Disney’s theme parks and anyone who has visited or studied Disney can understand and appreciate the message it implies to any “cast member.” 

But how does this apply to a manufacturer, a contractor or an engineer?

A family of four probably spends about $1,000/day to spend 4-5 days at Disneyland between transportation, lodging, park fees, food and souvenirs. It’s expensive. And yet, people come from all over the world to “see the Mouse.” 

Does this have any reality to my business at all? No matter how much you want to build a great relationship with a client, it seems that some procurement practices are focused at driving every last penny out of the margin, and then exhaustive and often punitive contracts bury you with red tape and risk. Sometimes it seems that every project is an equal opportunity to build your business, or ruin it.

How do you become the “Disney” of your marketplace? In fact, Disney has established the Disney Institute that helps organizations take what Disney does and apply it to their business. In researching the Disney Institute, a basis for the experience is that Disney differentiates between customer service and customer experience. It replaces a transactional mindset (customer service) with a holistic one (customer experience) – and importantly, it is all about culture and commitment. Disney has specific and well-defined guidelines for cast members that create continuity and consistency in every engagement with customers.

In the engineering and construction business however, it is easy to argue that engagement with clients is ruled by the contract terms and conditions.

Nonetheless, every engagement with a client is an engagement with a person who has needs, expectations and challenges. Excelling at this engagement within the confines of a challenging set of rules is still possible and achievable if you know the needs, expectations and challenges of the people you’re working with, and openly seek to fulfill them within the confines of the agreement. The best project managers are adept at this and guide the team along the path that lies between the rock and the hard place.

It is about taking pride in what you do, being focused on serving your market one buyer at a time, and constantly striving for excellence. 

A noted New York restauranteur credited his restaurant’s success to the ambience as much as the food. The front of the house staff is trained at being “present” and focused on the guest’s experience. And they send guests home with a little gift - a small bag of homemade granola. His thinking is that there are plenty of places in New York that serve great culinary masterpieces and even at that highest level, he is seeking ways to differentiate himself not only with his food, but also with the customer experience. Again, not just with their customer service, but with their customer experience.

I think in the end, it is about creating a culture of differentiation. Make the experience of the engagement memorable, repeatable and unique. Make it your trademark. Make them want to come back and experience it again, and want to bring others to experience it as well.

"When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable."

Walt Disney

"Of all the things I've done, the most vital is coordinating those who work with me and aiming their efforts at a certain goal."

Walt Disney

"Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end."

Scott Adams