Building the Business Case for Disney’s “Back to the Basics” Guest Service Training

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts are renowned for guest service. While still employed by Disney, the Integrated Insight team carried  responsibility for identifying and proving the business case for customer service, resulting in millions of dollars of re-investment in service enhancements, training and leadership development as the company engaged In a “Back to the Basics” initiative.

While Disney had conducted Guest Satisfaction and Employee Engagement tracking studies for years, the question content was based on insights developed decades earlier. We started by conducting extensive qualitative and quantitative research to understand current guest perceptions and expectations. Guest insights were supplemented with research among front line cast members and leaders to uncover barriers to delivering excellent service. Collectively, these insights helped inform strategies and initiatives to achieve higher satisfaction and intent to recommend.

One of the most difficult efforts was how to focus over 50,000 cast members on what to do. We started by tackling the task of converting what guests want to what cast members should do. This resulted in the establishment of new service standards, and just as important, eliminating prior standards so that cast members could focus on the present.

The business case was established by analyzing longitudinal research on guests stated intent versus actual return. Over the course of ten years, numerous studies had been conducted with consistent results indicating what factors drove return visitation and what contributed to a guest’s lack of interest in visiting again.  The team estimated the investment required to correct and overcome these obstacles and the expected return on investment.

To test the approach prior to company-wide rollout, we established a comprehensive test/control study in both resorts and theme parks. Over a three month period, measured results test versus control and test properties pre versus post implementation showed double digit percent improvement in “excellent” ratings and return intent. This scientific approach enabled a refinement of investment to spend where the impact was greatest and resulted in approval of funding for company-wide implementation.

Read more about the Basics here.

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