At Disney, It’s All About the Experience

Okay, the mid-term break is over – it’s time for the sixth session of the summer term of the 2016 GsD program – a reading survey course. Over the next few weeks, I will continue to list a broad overview of some of the recent literature in the field of customer service – and you will quickly see how it connects to Guest Experiences! It’s only an introduction to whet your appetite – the application to the world of Guest Experiences for churches will come in the second summer term!

2016 GsD Summer Term 1: Survey of Customer Experience Literature 201

Text: The Experience: The Five Principles of Disney Service and Relationship Excellence

Authors: Bruce Loeffler and Brian T. Church

Synopsis: The Walt Disney Company is known the world over for its quality of service. No other company is able to consistently create the magic, joy, and excitement that are characteristic of the Disney brand – though many have tried. What is Disney’s secret?


Drawing on years of experience training Disney employees and overseeing service excellence for other renowned organizations, the authors of The Experience: The 5 Principles of Disney Service and Relationship Excellence reveal the five-part model that has kept Disney at the top for over 60 years.

What can the Disney organization teach the church about Guest Experiences?

Walt Disney set the standard for Guest Services, and Disney Legends like Van France, Dick Nunis, Marty Sklar, and a host of others refined them over the years. From a single theme park in 1955, Disney has spread literally around the world (and across the oceans) with their unique methods of making everyone feel “magical.”

In 1983, a number of key leaders from across Walt Disney World formed a team that was designed to take the Disney Guest Experience to the next level. A part of that team was a young man tasked to enhance the service and presentation skills of the Disney Cast Members – Bruce Loeffler.

During the next decade, Loeffler and the rest of the team successfully planned, implemented, revised, and then spread basic principles of Guest Experiences to all Disney properties.

In the next two decades that followed, Loeffler continued to refine and extend those principles in his own consulting group. Now, joined by Brian Church, those principles can be found in The Experience.

The heart of The Experience contains five I CARE Principles:

  • Impression
  • Connection
  • Attitude
  • Response
  • Exceptionals

Don’t let the simplicity fool you! Packed along with the 5 principles you will find 10 “Non-Negotiables” for each Principle, followed by “Actionables” designed to help you put the Principle in practice in your own organization. Each Actionable is introduced by a “Quotient Question” to make you think and connect the broad Principle to a specific Non-Negotiable.


Simply Brilliant!

Book Outline

Here’s a sneak peek at the core of their book – the 5 I CARE Principles as the authors define them:

I. C.A.R.E Principles

I – Impression: The lasting imprint made through first and ongoing relational inflection points; the catalyst to building a relationship. The Impression that you provide before a guest interacts with your company all the way until their interaction is complete matters; it is the catalyst to building and maintaining that relationship

– Connection: The pivot point between contact and relationship. Converting clients and customers from consumers to Ambassadors (those on a mission to tell the world specifically about you) hinges on the ability to create the cerebral, emotional and personal connection.

 Attitude: The filter for everything you think, say and ultimately do. Attitude is the lens in which you see the world and the outward expression of inward feelings.

R – ResponseService is about personal responsibility and responding as opposed to reacting. The hallmark of customer service and an exceptional experience is the response. If the response time, tone and talent do not match up with every other aspect of an exceptional experience, everything else is rendered useless.

E – Exceptionals:  The secret behind the experience is the relational expertise and execution that comes from the people in charge of delivering it. The management team and employees must be prepared and  empowered to have the Experience living and breathing within them.

About the authors: Bruce Loeffler is the co-founder and president of Experience International. In his 10 years at Disney, Bruce held several key positions including the first Disney Service Excellence Coordinator. He has developed numerous training programs for Disney and other Fortune 500 companies specializing in Customer Service.

Brian T. Church is the founder of Experience International as well as the CEO of Ambassadors International. Brian specializes in building business relationships and creating relational momentum for brands, ideas, and endeavors around the globe.

Additional Resources: You can find more information about Experience International here. A separate website contains the The Experience Quotient, an online assessment allowing you to rate your organization or an experience.

A Quick Comment: I deal with Guest Experience materials every day in my passion of helping churches make the best First Impression on Guests as they come to their church campuses. Like The Experience, almost all of them come from the world of Customer Service in the business world. Many of them are good…

…but The Experience has ushered in a new level of helpful tools for Guest Experience leaders and teams to improve their game. Wisely, the authors caution against trying to do too much. The final chapter presents a “One Level Challenge” that encourages you to identify 12 areas that will become a monthly growth point for your teams over the next year.

Imagine having a readily-adaptable action plan for the encouragement and training of your Guest Experience Teams for the next year!

That’s just one of the benefits The Experience delivers.

The I CARE Principles and their supporting Non-Negotiables found in The Experience are the elements and opportunities that can help you enhance the Guest Experience for your church.

If you don’t have this excellent resource, I strongly recommend you order a copy of The Experience today – NOW – and begin a journey to Guest Experience Excellence.

The Experience

Guestology – the art and science of knowing and understanding your guests – is a term originated by Bruce Laval of the Walt Disney Company. The use of GsD (Doctor of Guestology) is my tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment that organizations that really want to understand and deliver a WOW Guest Experience need to study the best practices and principles in use today, and then adapt them to the context of their own environment.

If you didn’t get a chance to participate in the 2013 GsD Summer Reading 101 classes, you can begin reading a 10-part session here.

For more reading in the area of Guest Experiences, check out my Essential Guest Experience Library. I am always adding new resources for your learning pleasure!

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