A Valuable Lesson from Disney on Customer Service

Let me quote from a speech, given by Valerie Oberle, who at the time was the Vice President of Disney University. You know Disney’s not clean by accident. Disney is Disney, that’s top down management. So here’s the speech she gave …

Listen to the audio or read the transcript to learn the valuable lesson from Disney on customer service.

“Not too long ago, a guest checking out of the Polynesian village resort at Walt Disney World, was asked how she enjoyed her visit. She told the front desk clerk she had a wonderful vacation, but she was heartbroken about losing several rolls of Kodak color film.”

That’s how old this is, there was no digital camera then. So several rolls of Kodak color film she had not yet developed. Ms. Oberle continues:

“She was particularly upset over the loss of the photos she had shot at our Polynesian luau, because this was a memory, she especially treasured. Now please understand we have no written service standards covering lost luau snapshots.

Fortunately the hostess at the front desk understood Disney’s philosophy of caring for our guests. She asked the woman to leave her a couple of rolls of fresh film, promising she would take care of the rest. Two weeks later, the guest received a package in her home. In it were photos of the entire cast of our luau show, personally autographed by each performer.

There were also photos of the parade and fireworks in the theme park taken by the front desk hostess, on her own time, after work.

I happen to know the story because the guest wrote us a letter. She said that never in her life had she received such compassionate service from any business establishment. Heroic service does not come from policy manuals, it comes from people who care, and a culture that encourages and models that attitude.”

I just think that’s a great story. Disney is not Disney by accident.

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The audio podcast with the valuable lesson from Disney “On Customer Service” first appeared on Don Connelly 24/7 in the Tools of the Trade library.



  • As you stated….its truly the “Heroic Service” that will separate any firm from their competitors.

    Great story and thanks for sharing Don.

    Marty Morua

    • Thank you for your comment Marty. Glad you liked this post. I loved the Nordstrom story you shared on our LinkedIn discussion. Exceptional service comes from caring more than people expect you to care.


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