Disney Guest Service Strategy


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This is a project my team and I did for one of our final management classes. As consultants, we had to solicit an organization to give us an issue within the organization to study and to provide process improvement and recommendations. The problem given to us was how to improve the guest experience within the parks as well as some material the company had already come up with at the time including a management evaluation and a list of statements known now as the basics. From this starting point we created a strategy called the "new standard," referring to the new standard in guest experience and the new performance expectations of the Cast. This strategy was developed independently and based on the best ideas from companies from a variety of industries. The project was turned in early December 2007.

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Disney Guest Service Strategy

  1. 1. Meeting the New Standard © Improving the Guest Experience at the Walt Disney World Resort Strategic Consulting Josh Buchanan Matthew Covarrubias James Gillis T.J. Lovejoy Craig Wuollet December 3, 2007
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  3. 3. Executive Summary Disney Theme Parks create a magical environment for their guests in which none of their competitors can quite duplicate. This core competency is driven by their Cast Members and their world renowned guest service. To continue improving their business Disney has set up new cast member standards in the form of the Basics. These new standards expect Cast members to maintain and reinforce the ‘magical’ experience of guests by being approachable, engaging, and willing to go above and beyond. However, motivating the Cast to maintain the famous guest service standards that guests have come to expect has always been challenging. Issues with guests arise when Cast members are either unable or unwilling to ensure the guest experience is a ‘magical’ one, even if only for a small period during working hours. It is these periods of substandard performance that need to be minimized. Disney needs to take into consideration a broad range of issues that affect the ultimate performance of the individual Cast Member in order to minimize inevitable periods of suboptimal performance. With these steps comes a cultural change within management to help mold the Cast Member that it envisions. In achieving their goals and vision for the new Cast Member, the following steps should be considered: • Restructuring regional Operational Areas in the mold of small business units to increase management’s ownership and therefore accountability based on objective measurement standards • Proactively incorporate Cast feedback into the decision making process of the management teams through greater Cast engagement processes. • Management training and classes consisting of a formal classroom management course designed to promote participative approaches to management and the importance of placing value on the Cast as well as illustrate Disney’s management expectations. • Provide Cast Members incentives to increase their education and training. • Improve programs to retain top performers. • Create regional visions and missions along with attraction specific mission statements. • Develop tools to increase management’s effectiveness in approaching issues specific to their sphere of influence. • Continuous feedback and reassessment tools for managers that are individualized to specific attractions and Cast teams. • Design and implement creative applications for the initiatives discussed. • Implement a balanced scorecard system that is accessible to all levels of management and applicable to the global business strategy. To apply the implementation plan, management’s focus needs to be realigned to concentrate on the considerations of the Cast rather than exclusively on the Guest experience itself. Feedback tools need to be developed to increase the effectiveness of management and increase management’s accountability for their team’s performance. Lastly, managers should remember the golden rule in that they should treat ‘Cast Members how they would want them to treat Guests.’ In doing so, Disney will be striving to create a magical experience not only for its valued guests, but also for the people that make it happen, the Cast. 3
  4. 4. Disney’s Guest Expectations “Part of the Disney success is our ability to create a believable world of dreams that appeals to all age groups.”-- Walt Disney Much of what differentiates Disney Theme Parks from their competitors is their ability to fully immerse guests into a ‘magical’ reality where the thoughts and concerns of the outside world are pushed to the wayside. The core to the success of Disney Theme Parks is an outstanding commitment to guest service and the Cast Member’s ability and freedom to do whatever possible to make sure the guest’s stay is a positive and memorable one. This has become the expectation of Disney guests, as well as the expectation of the organization as a whole. This expectation is difficult to maintain, especially considering the high expectations of every individual guest that visits the parks. Even one bad encounter with a Cast Member can have a profound tarnishing affect on the overall Disney image, and consequently harm the reputation of the Disney product. This is a guest account of a negative experience while visiting the Disneyland Resort: “Disney is widely known for creating dreams, for sparking your inner personality and for creating memories that last a life time. With that in mind I discussed with several past cast members the possibility of Disney aiding me in the engagement to my Disney fanatic fiancée. With their experience in the past they assured me that Disney would give me a variety of wonderful options to assist in my proposal, however, when I went to the park to set this up I experienced a drastically different incident. When I first approached the Disney Guest Relations office I was unkindly welcomed by two individuals who were there to “help guests.” I let them know of my situation and asked for assistance. With a reluctant sigh the cast member claimed that they “never have and never will help people with their engagements.” To end the conversation quickly the cast member then handed me a card with a phone number to the wedding services of the park. After calling this number I was given the same story by an unfriendly toned representative, however they did offer to assist with our wedding down the road. In all situations the members appeared to be annoyed by the customer, they did not have the “typical” friendly tone that is normally associated with the vision of Disney. I was planning this engagement for about a year, it was unfortunate that my view on Disney was wrong and that they were not there to support their guest’s dreams.” This is evidence of the damaging effect that one bad encounter can have on Disney’s ‘magical’ image, and of the high standard Disney guests have for Disney Theme Parks. There is a good chance that from now on, this experience will be recalled every time the Disney name comes up. This is exactly what Disney is attempting to avoid through its Cast training and initiatives. The Cast as a Core Competency “Look at your employees first, then your customer, then your shareholder.”—Richard Branson, Virgin The Cast Members themselves have evolved into a core competency for Disney that is not easily imitated. Disney strives to make sure that its Cast is well trained and informed of their environment and the guests that they serve. Much of the Cast strength in serving the Disney guests is results of the empowerment and tools Disney has given the Cast to make sure the guest experience is a not only a positive one, but a memorable one as well. The Cast has much of the tools and support systems necessary to meet the expectations that Disney has set for them, and to provide immediate guest service recovery that is a staple of Disney’s business model. 4
  5. 5. However, it has been an issue motivating the Cast to meet these standards throughout a whole shift, day in and day out. It is during the valleys of Cast performance where issues with guests arise. During this time period Cast members are either unable, or unwilling to ensure the guest experience is a ‘magical’ one. The New Cast Member Standard The new Cast member standard can be summed up as Cast members who maintain and reinforce the ‘magical’ experience of guests by being approachable, engaging, and willing to go above and beyond. Disney’s Cast Basics Disney has laid out a roadmap for Cast Members that is based on guest feedback, to achieve this New Standard in the Cast Member Basics: • I present a positive image and energy. • I am courteous and respectful to all guests…including children. • I stay in character and play the part. • I go above and beyond. If Cast members can consistently perform these four tasks throughout their shift, they will meet the New Standard that Disney is striving to achieve, and the expectations that Disney Guests have set for them. By meeting this standard, Disney will be reaching a level of guest service that is seen only in the outstanding levels of current Cast member performance. Determining the Drivers of the New Standard In meeting the objective stated, there are a few factors that need to be taken into consideration. While structural and more superficial factors may be contributing factors to performance that is inconsistent with Disney’s ultimate vision and goals, employee morale and work environment factors are directly correlated to Cast Members meeting the higher standards Disney has set for them. Do Cast Members feel valued? “It has only been a generation since the studies of behavioral scientists began to prove that internal motivation is more effective than coercion. Internal motivation is self-sustaining, and it does not produce the resentment and frustration associated with coercion.”—Eugene Benge and John Hickey, Morale and Motivation In any work environment it is imperative that employees feel valued by both their peers and management. If a Cast Member feels undervalued or unappreciated, their motivation to go above and beyond to improve the guest experience goes down markedly. Much of the intrinsic motivation that is needed to achieve the standards that Disney is striving for revolves around creating a sense of ownership among the Cast, and engaging the Cast in decision making and problem solving. Recognition and appreciation for performance has a strong influence on motivation especially when Cast Member performance goes unnoticed and isn’t adequately rewarded. Managers need to focus on developing the intrinsic motivation, ownership, and trust in management that drives them to go above and beyond. The lateral dimension of Cast Member valuation comes from their peer group. A Cast Member’s productivity and willingness to perform to the standards that are expected of them correspond to their standing within the peer group. Management needs to promote teambuilding, and at the same time be 5
  6. 6. considered members and leaders of the team. It must be understood that the Cast-Management relationship is symbiotic one and that a rift between the two is detrimental to all involved by both Cast and management. While it is necessary to put a top priority on the experience of the guest, this priority should be placed largely in the hands of the Cast. Management’s focus needs to be readjusted to focus on the Cast work environment and the relationship management has with the Cast. This refocus will put the organization as a whole in better position to meet the expectations of the guest, as it is now the top priority for management to make sure the Cast is motivated and in the best position and condition to meet those expectations. Is Management creating an environment that has a positive affect on Cast performance? “Business textbooks define management’s prime responsibilities as strategic planning, marketing, accounting, return on investment, and the like. I believe, however, that providing a positive caring working environment for employees is the single most important role of a manager.”—Jim Poisant The Harvard Business Review has stated that a happy employee in a customer service role is two and a half times more likely to go above and beyond their normal requirements to help customers. Having a happy Cast is strongly influenced by management’s ability to create an environment around them that promotes a positive atmosphere. Creating this environment is much more difficult than it first appears and requires management to have a relationship with the Cast in order understand the drivers of their happiness. A participative approach to management that incorporates Cast feedback into decision making is needed to achieve the environment needed to support the ultimate Cast Member performance standards that Disney is trying to create. It is necessary for management to do everything possible to support the Cast in its ability to perform at higher standards. Often, management puts operational needs or guest needs in front of Cast needs, which has the effect of putting Cast priorities second or even third to management’s own priorities. Ultimately, it is the Cast that is Disney World’s competitive advantage against its competitors and it should be treated with the highest priority. It is the management’s development and commitment to the Cast and the Cast’s subsequent commitment to guests that drives the success of Walt Disney World. Management needs to make it a priority to create an environment around the Cast that sets the Cast up for success with the guest. This environment is positive, supportive, and responsive of the needs of the Cast. The environment is one where the Cast is confident of bringing up mistakes to management, as well as willing to take risks to meet the needs and expectations of the Guest. No Cast Member should be chastised for trying to meet the ‘dreams’ of the guests; even if ultimately the Cast Member made a mistake. It is an environment where not only is the Cast trusting, responsive, and proactive towards management, but one where management carries respect, understanding, empathy, and encouragement toward the Cast. Do Managers have the tools necessary to be Effective? Currently, the onus is on the manager and management teams exclusively to identify problem areas within their operations. This becomes a very subjective process as there are no measurements of an attraction’s Cast performance. There is no data or feedback that is related directly to how well the Cast is performing at specific attractions, leaving manager’s with nothing, but their eyes and ears to determine problem areas. This greatly hampers manager’s ability to be completely effective in trying to improve Cast performance. Apart from this is the lack of a tool to make sure management’s initiatives and actions are in congruence with the vision and mission of Walt Disney World and the individual Parks. There is no system in place to measure the performance of initiatives that can be related and referred to by all levels of the organization. 6
  7. 7. Managers need to be given timely accurate information regarding their area of operation. Metrics such as Cast Excellence scores need to be isolated to individual attractions to give managers the necessary direction and focus on areas of improvement. Cast work environment and management performance needs to be measured in order to create an environment of continuous improvement within the operational area. Additionally, the balanced score card method needs to be implemented to involve all levels of the organization and to focus the entire organization on initiatives and performance that truly effect the overall mission and goals of Walt Disney World and the Parks. This method allows all levels of management to see the ‘big picture’ and to determine whether or not new ideas will actually have an impact on moving the organization to that vision. Treat Cast Members how you want them to treat guests “Customer relations mirror employee relations”—Dinah Nemeroff, Citibank This is the core principle that manager’s should operate under while managing the performance of their Cast. In order to truly convey what Disney is trying to accomplish with guest-cast interaction, management must be able to lead by example in their treatment of the Cast. It is counterproductive to making the Cast feel valued to be rigid and unsympathetic to the Cast needs and wants. How can a manager leverage the Cast to go above and beyond for Disney guests when that manager is either unable or unwilling to go above and beyond for the Cast? Treating Cast Members how you want them to treat guests is the first step on the part of management to achieving the goals that management itself has set. It will take a flexible, creative, decisive, and empathetic leadership team to achieve both the value standard the Cast should feel, and the working environment described above. Both of which are essential to developing and refining the Cast to perform how management wishes. Achieving the New Cast Member Standard “While facing economic realities, GE managers still must care about the people who work for them. If they don’t go out and care about their people, the people won’t do things for them. You have to constantly show you care. The only thing that makes a company work is the fact that our people are in the game. We [managers] don’t do it.”— Jack Welch The recommendations here take into consideration a broad range of issues that affect the ultimate performance of the individual Cast Member. In achieving Disney’s overall vision and goals for how the new Cast Member should perform, all of these tactical steps need to be implemented. What is achieved here is ultimately a cultural change within management to help mold the Cast Member that it envisions. It must be stressed that there is no quick fix to this issue, and it will take a resolved and determined leadership to implement these recommendations, especially in regard to the Area Managers who will be driving the cultural change among the front line Guest Service Managers and ultimately through to the Cast. Operational Areas Individual operating areas should take on more responsibility in the development of operational goals and action plans for their operating areas. They need to operate more like small business units in that they have more control and authority to develop and implement plans that will ultimately improve the area and guest experience. With additional measurements for the operation that are recommended later, the management teams will have more of the resources needed to make informed decisions and develop long term strategies. 7
  8. 8. This will also allow upper management to hold teams more accountable for what is happening in their operational areas, especially with improved methods of measuring Cast Member and attraction performance. This in turn will increase manager’s stakes in their areas and increase management productivity in terms of generating innovative ideas and approaches to improving park operations. Training and Development “Managers encourage and train employees, provide them with the resources and tools they’ll need to do their jobs, and create an environment where they can be successful.”- Jim Poisant In achieving the New Standard, training and development of both management and Cast will have to be increased beyond its current levels. It is important that indoctrination and training goes beyond company wide vision and culture, and incorporates the new operational area visions, especially among the Cast. Management Training and Classes Currently, Disney has both an informal training process for new managers that features shadowing and on the job learning, as well as more structured training with classroom time with training at the individual attractions. This puts the teaching focus on current managers in their respective operational areas. The result of this is an unclear picture of the expectations and skills necessary to perform the duties of a manager. While many managers are able to develop their own styles and techniques for dealing with management issues, Disney needs to stress certain approaches that will be supportive of the New Standard. Much of this training would be embodied in a formal classroom management course designed to promote participative approaches to management, and the importance of placing value on the Cast. It should also impart the necessity to enforce the workplace visions and missions, as well as offer steps and tools to achieve them. This class or classes will create a clearer image of the expectations Disney has for management, particularly in regard to the significance these approaches have on Cast performance. Coordinator Training Coordinators need to be given training on management techniques and the expectations Disney has for its managers. This could incorporate a less in depth version of the management training course as well as Coordinator specific classes that deal with the challenges they may Some of the lessons the Dell Inc. have to face in their roles, such as conflict resolution and feedback. supervisors learned were: The Coordinator training classes can also provide a way for Disney to • Communicate the big picture, begin training its future managers. These courses should be designed not just specific job duties as a development tool to give Coordinators the tools necessary to • Watch their body language improve their careers, especially as their role is seen as a stepping when addressing employees stone to management. The precedent for the increase in formal • Maintain eye contact to indicate training comes as “firms seek to better motivate and engage workers in they are listening an increasingly global and fast-paced environment.” Home Depot has • Refrain from jumping to begun to increase its formal training since it noticed its “traditional conclusions when discussing a informal coaching and mentoring” approaches “had become less problem with a worker Source: WSJ reporting effective as the company expanded and higher-level managers became busier.” Dell, Inc. has also begun an intensive training effort and takes their managers to an off-site location “for five-days of role-playing exercises, lectures, question-and-answer sessions, and hearing workers talk about experiences with supervisors” after which managers get “feedback from coaches as well as peers.” 1 1 White, Erin. Firms Step Up Training for Front-Line Managers. The Wall Street Journal, Monday August 27, 2007. P. B3. 8
  9. 9. Supporting the effectiveness of the training, Dell employees reported that “supervisors who have had the training are better at giving feedback and identifying skills employees need to improve.” 2 Training and Education Incentives Disney needs to provide Cast Members incentives to increase their education and training. For meeting certain educational levels or training tiers, Cast Members will receive certain amounts of wage increases. In addition, being bilingual or taking training courses in different languages should provide Cast Members eligibility for certain amount of wage increases. These language courses could be provided by Disney or in partnership with language training organizations. These incentives can cover a wide range of training that have a direct influence on guest experience, like behavioral classes or communication classes. Retaining Top Performers The next issue that Disney must face is that of retaining quality employees after hire. Keeping high performers within the organization is vital to a successful, healthy, and growing business. Especially in a customer focused industry such as that of Disney World, high performing Cast Members with years of experience will continue to uphold and even raise the expectations of service that should be delivered by the Cast to Disney’s guests. Fleet Bank is a company that launched an intensive study as to the causes of high turnover and the effects of this turnover on the company. The results of Fleet’s findings were published in the Harvard Business Review Application and stated that the variables that ultimately affect Career Coaches turnover could be reduced into three categories: external Disney should provide career coaches for its employees to market influences, organizational characteristics and help them develop professionally. These coaches could be 3 practices, and employee attributes. Fleet addressed major assets in the Leadership Casting Call process, as well these issues and made changes within the organization as resources for employees to explore opportunities outside that saved the company millions of dollars and reduced their own line of business. Some of the features of this program could be resume building, mock interviews and turnover by 40% among salaried employees and 25% 4 feedback, and career plan development. among hourly employees. An example of feedback for Cast Members would be the To do this, Fleet found that one of the biggest factors to taping of a mock interview so the Cast Member can have a increasing retention was providing its employees with visual reference of their performance and have direct opportunity for career mobility and progress within the feedback on things they need to improve. company.5 Fleet discovered that if an employee had changed positions within the company in the past year, the chance of that employee leaving was nearly cut in half. Fleet also found that one of the groups of employees that were the highest risk for leaving was that of high performing employees that had been in the same position for two or more years. Giving a high performing employee the opportunity to grow and move up within the company will generally keep them from seeking out other opportunities elsewhere in the market. One surprising fact of the Fleet study was that pay levels had the smallest impact on retention, showing that employees value a secure future and career path rather than immediate rewards. Having a positive work environment where the employee feels valued, enjoys the work, and has the opportunity of internal mobility factors more into an employee’s decision to stay in the company than the money. Additionally, perks 2 White, Erin. Firms Step Up Training for Front-Line Managers. The Wall Street Journal, Monday August 27, 2007. P. B3. 3 Nalbantian, Haig R., and Anne Szostak. quot;How Fleet Bank Fought Employee Flight.quot; Harvard Business Review (2004). 1 Oct. 2007. 4 Nalbantian, Haig R., and Anne Szostak. quot;How Fleet Bank Fought Employee Flight.quot; Harvard Business Review (2004). 1 Oct. 2007. 5 Nalbantian, Haig R., and Anne Szostak. quot;How Fleet Bank Fought Employee Flight.quot; Harvard Business Review (2004). 1 Oct. 2007. 9
  10. 10. included in the job outside of pay packages tend to be a large factor in recruiting high quality candidates that may be also highly valued by other companies. Wal-Mart and Southwest Airlines, for example, use profit sharing programs as employee benefits. Disney could apply a profit sharing program for its employees which would give the employees more of a vested interest in the success of the Company and at the same time improve their financial standing. Increased financial security will minimize personal stresses a Cast Member inevitably brings to work and in turn could increase productivity and Guest-Cast interaction. Cross Training and Opportunity for Advancement Application The Fleet Bank study found that the possibility of mobility within the Attraction Tenure Caps company, even lateral moves, decreased employee turnover and Disney should also consider a policy of maintained performance. In fact, the opportunity of job mobility turned capping the amount of years a Cast out to be more of an incentive to stay within the organization than a 10% Member can spend at any one attraction for any length of time. Not only with this pay increase.6 help create more cross functional Cast Members, but it will also allow Cast Disney needs to institute programs that allow for more cross-training. Members to move into new environments Not only does this increase the value of Cast Members in Disney’s eyes, free of the stresses and issues of their it increases the value felt by Cast Members. Most Cast Members lose home attraction or area. productivity the longer they are in an area or position, especially if they do not have an opportunity for mobility. This will give Cast Members a sense of empowerment and control over their work environment. Profit Sharing Programs Stalwart companies like Wal-Mart and Southwest Airlines in their respective industries offer profit sharing to their employees as a benefit of employment and this has Application allowed many employees to accumulate a large financial base outside of the normal salary. Perks such as profit sharing, Disney Profit Sharing Program insurance benefits, and a competitive salary has earned One program Disney can institute to Southwest Airlines a ranking of 2nd in the Forbes’ Top 100 increase perceptions of employee value is to Best Companies to work for.7 Additionally, Southwest create a profit sharing program for its Cast rewards its employees for excellent performance, maintaining members. This program would take a job loyalty, job satisfaction, and personal motivation, making percentage of yearly profits and distribute them to Cast Member accounts. Cast it a company in which employees rarely leave.8 Members would not be able to receive these An additional benefit to this program would be a sense of benefits until they meet a required length of financial stability for Cast Members that would relieve the stresses accompanied by uncertain financial futures. This stress relief would mean that less Cast Members would carry this burden to work and as a result, guest-cast interaction could be positively affected. Importance of Vision and Mission “People support what they help create.”—Anonymous While each of Walt Disney World’s theme parks has their own unique vision, its meaning is largely detached from the Cast. It is something that is taught to every Cast Member, but it lacks the support that is needed to 6 Nalbantian, Haig R., and Anne Szostak. quot;How Fleet Bank Fought Employee Flight.quot; Harvard Business Review (2004). 1 Oct. 2007. 7 Tripp, Tracy. quot;Best Practices Case Study: Best Perks, Southwest Airlines.quot; Vault. 4 Oct. 2007 http://www.vault.com/nr/newsmain.jsp?nr_page=3&ch_id=400&article_id=19258&cat_id=1261 8 Tripp, Tracy. quot;Best Practices Case Study: Best Perks, Southwest Airlines.quot; Vault. 4 Oct. 2007 http://www.vault.com/nr/newsmain.jsp?nr_page=3&ch_id=400&article_id=19258&cat_id=1261 10
  11. 11. really influence Cast performance. This is due to the detachment of Cast Members from the park as a whole, to their own operational areas. The resulting allegiance to operational areas and individual attractions requires Disney to make these units the points of emphasis in creating regional visions and missions. Vision of the Ideal Work Environment Application Ideally this environment is one that places great value on the Cast as a whole. It creates a positive sphere around the Operational Area Mission Statement Cast that features trust and understanding with Management needs to realign its focus from the guest to management, supports and energizes the Cast to meet the the Cast while maintaining consideration for the overall Disney Vision of creating a world where “fantasy is demand of the New Standard, as well as nurtures and reality, and reality fantasy.” For example: promotes the bonds between the Cast Members to create unified teams within the attractions. Most importantly, it “In creating the magical experience for our guests, we is an environment that includes the concerns and beliefs of will create an equally magical experience for our Cast. It the Cast. Without Cast support of the work environment is an experience that is positive, open, empowering, and vision, it will fail before it has even been undertaken. It most of all fun for our Cast to work and grow; for it is our must be one that permeates everything the Cast does; Cast that ultimately determines the success of the Disney therefore it requires the input and ownership of the Cast. dream.” Attraction Mission Statements This statement is indicative of the focus that management, especially front line managers, need to place on the Cast and their work environment in order to meet the New Every individual attraction within each Park needs to have Standard. its own mission statement that is developed by both the Cast and management, which coincides directly with the park vision. This will have the affect of giving the Cast ownership over the mission of their own area. It is something that will constantly be reinforced among the Cast and management, giving the whole area a sense of purpose and direction; a direction that was chosen by the Cast while still in tune with the overall mission and one that they will inevitably have a personal attachment to. Alternatively, the mission statement should support the vision of an ideal work environment for each attraction. Like supporting the park vision, this aspect of the mission statement will increase Cast ownership in their work areas in order to achieve the ideal work environment. Cast Ownership The goal of cast ownership is to create a sense of ownership among the Cast over their actions, both toward the guests and toward their own work environment. By instilling this sense of responsibility, the Cast will be more likely to be proactive in performing their duties to the fullest, since it was ultimately the Cast who laid out the higher expectations on themselves. Continuous Feedback and Reassessment “Service-oriented companies recognize the connection between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction and measure both regularly.”—Jeffery Disend An environment of continuous feedback and reassessment needs to be created around the management teams and Cast. This requires timely feedback from audits, guest surveys and Cast surveys that covers all aspects of the operating area. The feedback needs to be individualized to individual attractions to allow managers the ability to analyze and identify problem areas within their sphere of influence. In addition, these audits and surveys must have common grounds to enable a valid satisfaction comparison across the company. Cast Members and managers need to use the collected results as a growth tool and must be taught to constantly 11
  12. 12. reassess the actions that are being taken to improve the quality of the given results and ultimately improve Cast Member and guest satisfaction. The primary function of gaining continuous feedback will be to close the gap between the customer’s actual experience and their current expectations. Cast Surveys In order to identify particular issues within the Cast work environment, bi-annual Cast Surveys should be given in order to keep management up to date with them. These surveys should focus both on management’s relationship to the Cast as well as the Cast’s relationship with each other. For instance, Cast can report on how many times they had a bad experience with a manager, even a specific manager, over the past month. This will allow management to act more decisively and timely in maintaining the most productive work environment possible in relation to the area’s vision and mission. The second aspect of this survey is to determine the sense of ‘team’ among the Cast. It needs to analyze the relationship among the Cast and how strong those bonds are in relation to the team’s overall performance. These surveys are anonymous and managers may be rated pending the results of the surveys. Management teams can then be compared to the established guidelines and benchmarked with other operation areas. Guest Feedback Application Harvard Business Review illustrates the results of guest Guest Speak satisfaction levels taken from 362 companies; “Only 8% of Disney can develop an interactive feedback system them described their experience as “superior,” yet 80% of designed to engage the guests with a unique and the companies surveyed believe that the experience they enjoyable interface that is able to retrieve and have been providing is indeed superior.”9 Disney has a interpret guest responses into data for management built reputation for constructing an environment where feedback. guest’s “Dreams Come True,” however what are guest’s This can be in the form of game kiosks at individual current thoughts on the Cast member’s interactions? attractions, or even video rooms where guests can record their reactions and perceptions to different The feedback from guest surveys currently revolves questions about the attraction called: Guest Speak. around the performance of the park as a whole more than any individual area or attraction with a few guest comments being reported by guests who take the time. For a Guest Service Manager it is difficult to use this information since there is no direct relation to their sphere of influence. Feedback needs to be isolated to operational areas and attractions so that Guest Service Managers can focus on areas of need. Guests should be given surveys to fill out throughout their day that break down performance and individual attractions or locations. The guest can then be compensated with rewards after returning the survey and filling out another brief survey at the end of the day. This would allow management teams to receive direct feedback from guests about their area in a form that is conducive to them being able to identify and fix problems. Detailed results broken down by attractions and areas should also be made public to the Cast on a weekly basis to show either improvement or opportunity. Analyzing Feedback and Approval Ratings After collecting data from surveys, the data must be turned into information that all Cast members and management are able to understand. With this information action plans need to be created to reach targets of high customer satisfaction. This should be done on a global level as well as on the operational area level so 9 Meyer, Christopher and Andre Schwager, “Understanding Customer Experience.” Harvard Business Review. Feb. 2007 <www.hbr.org>. 12
  13. 13. that the operational area plans may apply to the larger goals of the company. Managers of different teams need to revisit their individual mission statements to verify that they are meeting established goals. The outcomes of these actions must constantly be reassessed to verify that they are successfully making a difference in the guest experience. The process of creating actions must be looked at as a never ending process for management that must be repeatedly performed to maintain the high level of guest satisfaction Disney seeks. With the constant focus of management on this process Cast will begin recognizing the emphasis of high customer satisfaction. The Harvard Business Review has noted this perception: “When employees observe senior managers persistently demanding experience information and using it to make tough decisions, their own decisions are conditioned by that awareness.”10 This emphasis will create an environment of continuous improvement on all levels of the organization. Regionalizing Guest Feedback The information gathering techniques described will ultimately give operational area management teams the tools necessary to be effective in the management and leadership of their areas. This information is what will give the operational areas the power to identify and solve problems strategically rather than dealing with them as they show themselves. Areas will begin to create their own strategies and solutions for how best to improve guest service. This emphasis will allow management teams and individual managers to be more effectively rated, and make the primarily subjective performance rating system more objective. Applying the New Standard Ultimately it is the Cast Member that will be the determining factor of whether or not a guest has a ‘magical’ experience or not. Through the application of restructuring, recruiting, vision and mission, training, teambuilding, and reassessment, the New Standard will be accomplished. It is important to keep in mind that through all these recommendations managers need to treat Cast Members how they want them to treat guests. Refocus Management on Cast Management’s focus needs to be placed on the Cast rather than directly on the Guest experience itself. Management’s efforts in improving the Cast experience will ultimately lead to improvement of the overall Guest experience. The effect of added support for Cast Members and their further empowerment will increase the morale of the Cast as a whole, and as a result increase the chances of Cast Members meeting the New Standard. Every manager needs to understand the affects of their decisions in regards to Cast behavior, and accept that they are ultimately responsible for the working environment of their operational area. Acceptance of this fact will lead to more effective working relationships between the Cast and management, and lead to innovative and creative approaches to improving the Guest experience. Develop Tools to Increase Management’s Effectiveness Making sure management has individualized feedback on attractions in their operational area is key to improving their overall effectiveness in improving the guest experience. Having this information will allow management teams to develop informed and effective approaches to their operational areas. This information will also increase the legitimacy of the team as a whole, as the team has objective performance measures to relate to the Cast. 10 Meyer, Christopher, and Andre Schwager. quot;Understanding Customer Experience.quot; Harvard Business Review (2007): 10. Sep. 2007 <www.hbr.org>. 13
  14. 14. Increased regionalization of the operations is a major factor in increasing the accountability of managers and management teams. While the teams will be more accountable for their areas, they will also be more empowered to develop strategic plans to improve their areas. This effectively gives these teams control of their own destiny. This accountability will also increase the stake managers have in their operation and spur them to develop new ideas and approaches to the various issues of the operational area. Treat Cast Members how you would want them to Treat Guests This is the golden rule all managers should follow. In interacting with the Cast with this mantra in mind, it increases the likelihood that Cast Members will feel valued by their managers. This is central to motivating the Cast to meet the New Standard and ‘go above and beyond’ for the guest. In meeting these requirements Disney is improving its brand value and ultimately increasing the Magical experience of the guests. Unless the Cast feels they are truly and sincerely valued by their managers, they will not perform up to their potential or the New Standard. Long Term Benefits of Improving the Cast Experience In implementing and pursuing these themes, Disney will improve its Long-Term Shareholder Value by decreasing employee turnover, increasing asset utilization, increasing revenue, and improving guest loyalty. This approach will improve the organization from the front lines of the Cast to the bottom line of company profits. In so doing, Disney will be striving to create a Magical experience not only for its valued guests, but also for the people that make it happen, the Cast. This process is a rare congruence of improving the professional lives of Disney Cast Members and improving the performance of the organization as a whole. It is a process that truly embodies the heart of what the Disney Company has come to symbolize: the one place where dreams really do come true. 14
  15. 15. Strategy Map 15
  16. 16. Exhibit 1 Exhibit 2 Strategy Map Balanced Sc Process: Improving Guest Service Theme: Positive Work Environment Objectives Measurement Productivity Growth • Decrease Employee • Cast Member Turnover Cost Turnover • Strategy Long-Term Shareholder Value Strategy • Increased • Attraction • Productivity Efficiency • Financial • Profitability • Revenue • Decreased Increased Asset Perspective Employee Turnover Utilization Customer Loyalty Increased Revenue • Increased Guest • Guest Satisfaction Retention Be in Provide Character “Above and Beyond” Courteous • Provide Excellent • Guest and Play the Service and Service Experience Guest Part Respectful Increased • Present a Positive • Attraction • Perspective Positive Brand Value- • Image and Energy Experience Image and Improved • Magical • Be Courteous to all • Guest Energy Guests Retention Experience Improved Morale Improved Cast/ Management Relationship • Cast • Stay in Character Experience • Cast Empowered Cast • Cast Incentives • Profit Sharing • Perspective Members • Provide a Positive • Management • Work Environment Approval Cast Members Feel Rating Support for Cast Valued Members Learning • Develop Support Systems • Strategic and Growth Human Capital Organization Capital • Information Capital • Align Cast Members Awareness Perspective Training- Refocus Culture- “Treat Cast as with Strategy Systems-Support Tools Management Guests” 16
  17. 17. Strategy Map This proposal is based on a strategy map (Exhibit 1) with the theme, positive work environment, to accomplish the new standard. This strategy map outlines the cause-and-effect relationships that need to take place for cast members to provide excellent guest service. The strategy map is broken into the four different perspectives: (1) Learning and Growth, (2) Cast Perspective, (3) Guest Perspective, and (4) Financial Perspective. Learning and growth focuses on Human, Information, and Organization Capital. The strategy map has identified three main focuses: (1) Refocus Management, (2) Support Tools, and (3) The Golden Rule- “Treat CAST as you would like them to treat GUESTS.” The Cast Perspective illustrates how the cast perceive the Learning and Growth elements of the strategy map. The elements of Learning and Growth affect the Cast Members. The affected Cast Members then influence the Guest Perspective. This is when Guests view Cast Members displaying the Cast Basics as excellent service and improved brand value. As the strategy map progresses and the cause-and-effect relationships take place it ends with affecting the financial perspective with decreased cost and increased revenue. Balanced Scorecard The balanced scorecard (Exhibit 2) measures the strategic objectives of the strategy map while monitoring cast work environment and guest experience. This metric system gauges how successful Disney is in implementing its new strategy with specific target set by executives. The new manager evaluations incorporating the management basics are a good start to measuring management performance, but managers need to be able to relate the evaluation to both the vision and mission of the area and the park. Some of the management evaluation criteria carry little meaning or are confusing, especially when looked at in isolation. The balanced scorecard also instills accountability. The scorecard has specific targets and allows managers to see if they are measuring up to the new standard. A survey of 66 Australian firms found that the use of balanced scorecards is associated with improved performance of companies regardless of company size, stage of product life cycle, or market position11. Action Plan This proposal has specific recommendations, action plan (Exhibit 3), to accomplish the steps needed to achieve the new standard. Each recommendation corresponds with the strategy map and balanced scorecard in each of the four perspectives. 11 Morse, Wayne J., Davis, James R., and Hartgraves, Al L. Management Accounting: A Strategic Approach. South- Western, 2003. P. 592