Overcoming Brand Banality Disney-Style

Disney-positions-itself-as-the-new-tentpole-power-houseWarren Buffett discusses the power of branding and Disney. But, how does Disney do it. Here’s the secret –Branding from the Inside Out:

Somewhere in the world, the following two scenarios are currently being played out. Both reflect a passive, victim mentality. Both undermine the brand. Both open the door to competitors.

Scenario #1:

“This weak economy is killing me. ‘Do more with less’ is the name of the game. My budgets are slashed and I have no wiggle room.”

The Result?

  • I don’t have the budget, time or people for training.
  •  Why train employees?  They’ll be gone pretty soon.

Scenario #2:

“This booming economy is killing me. We’re barely filling existing orders. Plus I can’t keep my good people. They jump ship as soon as someone else comes along waving a little extra money.”

The Result?

  • I don’t have the time or people for training.
  • Why train employees? They’ll be gone pretty soon.

Blaming the economy is a convenient excuse for not providing training and far too many organizations just don’t get it. The billions of dollars organizations spend each year on marketing and branding efforts are, for the most part, wasted. Why? Because the restaurants, stores and law firms awaiting those new customers attracted by the marketing campaign are all too often filled with indifferent employees. Yes, new clients and customers might appear, but far too many organizations chase them away with lousy service and lackadaisical employees.

Cutting corners on employee training is a guaranteed path to brand banality.

Jim Cora, retired Chairman, Disneyland International, sums up the training rationale he successfully used during his 43-year career at Disney,

 “Marketing is the time and money you spend to get people in the door. Training is the investment you make to get guests to come back and cast members to stay; it creates loyalty. If show was affected, I never cut corners to save money. I never cancelled a training program if it helped our show.”

This is branding from the inside-out and is one of the many reasons the Disney brand stands out in the mind of Warren Buffett. Training never takes a back seat. Take a look:

Source – [DougLipp]


The Six Levels of Customer Service

405764_338908089551369_488844152_nLast month I met a client in Indonesia. We went to lunch at a nearby mall where music poured into the public area from every shop. Just as we passed one storefront, the music stopped and the shopkeeper let out a growl. I looked inside and saw something most of us have not gazed upon for years. The shopkeeper had been changing the music in his boom box and as he pulled out the old cassette, all that thin metallic tape came spilling out in a dusty mess on the floor.

Remember that? But when was the last time you saw it? Do you remember phonograph records that scratched and screeched? Or cracked CDs? Today’s music is skip-free, scratch-free, instant, mobile—and never gathers dust.

Of course, it’s easy to see how advancements in technology are constantly changing our lives. Companies that manufacture products understand they must always be introducing something new, faster, easier, or better to keep their customers engaged. If they don’t, they will be left in the dust when their customers upgrade to the next new product.

Very few companies, however, understand that service is exactly the same—it’s always changing, and your job is to stay ahead of the competition and ahead of the curve.

Here’s what I mean. To start, let’s figure out the level of your current service. Basically it fits into one of these six categories.

• Criminal service is really bad. It’s service that violates even minimum expectations, the kind of service that your customers remember never to use again, and are angry enough to call you and complain about.
• Basic service is disappointing. It’s the point of frustration that can turn into anger—but when it’s over the customer is not disappointed enough to complain. However, he will tell his friends, and will remember not to call you for that kind of service again.
• Expected service is nothing special. It’s the average, the usual, the norm. The customer might come back to you, but only if no better options exist.
• Desired service is what your customers hope for and prefer. They’ll do business with your organization again because you do things for them just the way they like it.
• Surprising service is something special, like an unexpected gift. It gives your customers more than they expected. This makes you an organization that customers enjoy and will come back to again and again.
• Unbelievable service is astonishingly fantastic. This is the level of service your customers can’t forget, the legendary treatment they will tell all their friends about.

Can you see where your service stands today? Great. Now consider this: Each level of service is just like a step in a staircase. Companies that truly understand the power of great service are continuously looking for ways to climb to the next level.

But here’s the rub: Moving up is not another step on a solid staircase; it’s like trying to climb up a down escalator. Each level is consistently sliding downward because your competitors are also working to raise their service. One day you offer surprising service, but the next day everyone in your industry is doing the same thing—oops, you just slipped down to Desired. Wait another day, and oops, you just fell to Expected. The next thing you know, you’re the cassette player of service trying to compete with the iPod. Keep your service stepping up, or find yourself lying in the dust.

How can you step up your service? Three ways. First, keep service improvement as a key focus of your business. Don’t just hit the service target; aim for one or two steps higher. Next, ask your customers what else they would like, appreciate, or value. What are you not yet doing that they would love you for if you did?

Finally, benchmark your competition and those outside your industry. What’s new in one arena soon finds its way to others.

Ron Kaufman is coming  for a day of Service leadership workshop in  Dubai. Book your tickets now -

Source – [Ron Kaufman]