Friday, January 4, 2013

What Would Walt Do?

On Wednesday, December 12, most Chinook Arch staff attended a webinar called What Would Walt Do?: Quality CustomerService for Libraries. The presenters – Crystal Schimpf, Program Manager at the Community Technology Network, Elena Rosenfeld, Associate Director of Public Service at High Plains Library District, and Suzanne McGowan, Branch Manager at Anythink Wright Farms – had all attended the Disney Quality Service pre-conference workshop at ALA’s Annual Conference in Anaheim, California this past year and were excited to be able to share with us some of the things they had learned about Disney’s innovative customer service model.

Personal Expression: Using a story about a Dixeland band she watched in Disneyland's New Orlean’s Square, Crystal demonstrated how each employee is allowed to infuse their work with their own personal purpose. By allowing staff the freedom to express themselves, she argued that libraries can bring a higher quality of customer services and new experiences to their patrons.

Everyone is Responsible: Crystal explained how all Disneyland cast members (staff) are responsible for picking up trash, even the CEO. The park provides the infrastructure to enable this shared responsibility by placing trashcans close together. You should never have to walk more than 20 steps to a garbage can in the park. We were urged to consider how in libraries undesirable jobs can often be assigned to certain levels of staff and what we could do to create more equal levels of responsibility.

Priorities, Operating Principles, and Decisions Making Tools: Like Disney, a library should set up their employees to succeed. Elena revealed that Disney has four priorities to help guide their cast members. These priorities are Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency and they are ranked in this order. Safety is paramount because you want customers to be physically able to return and Show comes before Efficiency because people visit Disneyland to experience the stories and the magic.

After attending the workshop, Elena and her co-workers were looking at the Operating Priorities of High Plains Library District, which are internal measures of success. They decided that in order to help staff interacting with library patrons they would translate these priorities into Decision Making Tools. While not official yet, their preliminary tools are: 1.) Safety  2.) People Leave on a Good  Note  3.) Minimize Handoffs.

Obvious Questions: Susan talked about how Disney collects the most commonly asked questions and then prepares all levels of staff to answer what people are really asking when they make these inquiries. Having just asked one of these questions a few days earlier – When is the 7 pm light show? – Susan experienced firsthand how a cast member in charge of picking up garbage was able to direct her and her daughter to a perfect spot to watch from. If they do not already, libraries should gather the most asked questions and inform all staff about the best way to answer them.

Authenticity: At Disneyland cast members are not scripted but given very simple tools to infuse their interactions with authenticity. Susan described her own experience of watching her daughter receive a handshake from a man dressed as Russell from the movie “Up.” Susan was humbled and awed by how the costumed cast member focused on her daughter while shaking her hand, genuinely congratulating her as if she had really earned her Wilderness Explorer badges.

Magic Moments: With the right tools to give all staff the same purpose and goals, magic moments can be achieved. To show how this can happen, Susan described a moment that she had at Ariel’s Grotto. In the busy diner full of cast members, wait staff, and customers, Cinderella had approached their table, smiled, and whispered “Happy Birthday!” to Susan’s ecstatic daughter in a way that was both touching and special. Susan explained that this cast member went the extra mile to provide this magical moment and make them eager to return.

Simplicity: Susan expected that a Fortune 500 company would have a complex customer service toolkit for their staff to follow. Not so! Every Disneyland cast member has the same toolkit, which is small enough to fit on a single laminated business card. All levels of staff follow the toolkit and allows all cast members to feel empowered in their roles. As the toolkit is only given out to graduates of the Disney Institute and cast members, Susan was not able to find one by searching online.

In closing Susan said, “If you can start with a smile and end with a “Thank you!” and build a service model that has input from staff and purpose for staff, then you too will have Disney quality service!”

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