Disneyworld…..Disneyworld…… when you hear that magical word, one of two thoughts will immediately come to your mind: The happiest place on earth or the lines……. When I think of Disney, I think magic. I think back to all of the incredible experiences that I have had inside of those 4 magical parks.
When I decided to leave my previous career and jump into the world of education, I was fascinated by how the staff members in my building actually treated each other. I would constantly say hello and people would literally walk right by me. Parents would enter into the building and would be asked, “What do you want?” (yes that is a true story) Coming to work every day truly became a job for me and I had already begun to lose my passion for being there.
I have seen many blog posts and articles about bringing happiness and fun into the classroom through the Disney way. MIne is not focused on the fun or the classroom magic, but the science of customer service and how we can change an entire building culture quickly by following a structure that has been created and refined by Disney. Disney is known worldwide for its customer service to all of its customers and I believe every district can make this happen! Now…. the history and how I got “here.”
A few months into my 5th year in education, I went back to Disneyworld with family and friends. It was in front of the Peter Pan ride during a thunderstorm where my life was about to change forever. I had dinner plans in a new restaurant and had completely been turned around. A Castmember from the ride asked if I needed help and immediately gave me directions that were so detailed that even in this storm, there was no way that I would miss my destination. He then got on the phone by the ride and called the restaurant to let them know I would be a few minutes late. He then confirmed everything was great and I would be on my way.
I remember thinking on the plane ride home about this experience that even in a complete downpour, this Castmember went above and beyond to make sure that I was not going to miss my reservation but that I would not even have to worry about missing my reservation. He went above and beyond to ensure that I truly would, “Have a magical day!”
Upon getting home, I became very interested in the Disney customer service model. I began reading the book, Be Our Guest which then inspired me to dissect the issues I was having in my own school and try and make things better. I worked for hours on comparing Disney and our schools and tried to relate how customer service can actually impact student achievement. 15 years later, I believe that I have perfected the Disney customer service model in my own department.
My entire Technology Department including myself took the challenge of becoming Google Certified Educators. We all succeeded and some became Certified Trainers as well. This was about empowerment and believing that we had more to give to our staff than anyone ever thought we could. My team was provided Professional Development on classroom needs such as Differentiated Instruction and the flipped classroom model. The goal was to provide the best customer service possible.
Over the past few months, I have been asked by numerous colleagues, friends inside and outside of education, as well as countless schools to discuss my thoughts on why we have been so successful in changing the culture in not only my department but throughout the school district. I continue to revert back to the original 7 Disney service guidelines that were created prior to Walt Disney opening Disneyland. They were patterned after the 7 dwarfs:
Be Happy: Make Eye contact and Smile
Be Like Doc: Provide immediate service recovery
Don’t be Dopey: Thank each and every Guest! Show appreciation.
Don’t be Bashful: Seek out Guest contact.
Be Like Sneezy: Greet and welcome each and every guest. Spread the spirit of hospitality.
Don’t be Grumpy: Always display appropriate body language at all times.
Be Like Sleepy: Create Dreams and preserve the “Magical” Guest experience.
As I have worked with countless school districts nationally, I try to have them focus on the basics. Make eye contact and smile at everyone. People love being smiled at… trust me IT WORKS! You can actually say hello to them as well. Staff members, students and even parents will even say hello back and engage in great discussion. Thank everyone for their feedback. Always be willing to listen to what is being told to you. When someone feels that you are engaged in listening, they will open up to you and give everything that you need.
My job is to be a leader in my school district. Not just as an IT Director, but a leader of people and I take my job seriously. I make sure to seek out people and talk to them. I want everyone in my district to feel as if we are on the same team fighting for the same goal…. Student Achievement. That is our number one goal and the business that we are in. I am going to continue with future blog posts that will go more in depth about the process and the research that I have done with the premise that I continue to refine some of my tactics based upon the feedback that I am always receiving. I am always willing to work with school districts so please do not hesitate to reach out and say hello!