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Is your company truly customer aware?

Article by: Quest for Excellence UK Ltd

“What time is the 3 o’clock parade?” On any given day in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, you might hear Guests asking Disney Cast Members this seemingly peculiar question. Whilst the question has a very obvious answer – 3 0’clock – frequently the true question lies beyond the obvious.

Instead of simply repeating the obvious answer, Disney Cast Members share with the Guest what time the parade will pass by certain locations in the park, suggest the best vantage points to view the parade or say where their own favourite place to stand and watch is.  This is important, because rather than dismissing the “3 o’clock parade?” question as something trivial and offering a blunt response, Disney understands that it offers the opportunity to exceed the Guests’ expectations and make them feel special by further personalising their experience.

Quest for Excellence has worked with a wide range of companies over the last 11 years and we know that every organisation has its own “3 o’clock parade” question.   For instance, “How much is this?”(Poundland);  “Do these stairs go up or down?” (Cruise ship);  “What time is my next train?” (Virgin); “How long does the 20 minute photo printing take?” and “Do I need to be here for my passport photo?” (Max Spielman/Timpsons).

My personal favourite of the last 11 years is “Will my daughter have to get into the water for her swimming lessons?” This came up in a session with Olympic Swimmer Steve Parry’s Sport and Dance Company.  We helped Steve’s team to look beyond the obvious answer and they quickly came to understand that the real issue here was the genuine fear of the mother about her daughter getting into the water before she could swim properly.  The team developed – with our help – a response which mentioned how experienced and well qualified the staff were, how all non-swimmers started in the shallow end and how the low ratio of teachers to learners (2 to 1) ensured the everyone was as safe as it was possible to be.

At Quest for Excellence, we know that an organisation can never have exceptional customer service without a profound understanding of its customers at the individual level. We frequently use the “3 o’clock parade” question to help our clients understand that their answer can either end the conversation with their client/customer, or it can be the start of their Quest for Business Excellence.

The Quest for Business Excellence

A committed, responsible, inspiring leader … will develop his/her team through a culture of success…  enabling all members of their team to always provide the very best customer service… thus creating great customer loyalty, so that the organisation can achieve great financial results.

The Quest for Business Excellence has been developed from Disney’s Chain of Excellence which was extensively researched and created jointly by Disney and the Harvard Business School.   Like them, we are fully committed to the principle that ‘Customer Service is like Gravity’ – it must flow from the very top in order to be truly effective across the whole organisation.    Thus, any initiative about improving customer service must have the full commitment of the whole leadership team for it to succeed.

We help clients to find their own “3 o’clock parade” questions by asking staff to share their own experiences. We train leadership teams how to anticipate such questions and then help their staff to use them as an opportunity to exceed customer expectations.

Customer Awareness is vitally important for every business because it represents a huge opportunity for organisations to differentiate themselves by reassuring each and every customer that they are truly listening and empathetic to their concerns.

Ask yourself, what is your organization’s “3 o’clock parade” question? How can you help train your employees to forgo the seemingly obvious answer in favour of understanding what each customer truly “wants”?

Article by Martin Lee – Chief Executive

Quest for Excellence UK Ltd

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