Understanding the Mind, Hand, and Heart of Service at Disney

It’s time for the fourth session of the summer term of the 2016 GsD program – a reading survey course. Over the next few weeks, I will be listing 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 Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney

Author: J. Jeff Kober

Synopsis: Now in its 2nd edition, The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney brings forward new ideas–past and present–for how to take customer service in your organization to a whole new level. See it from the eyes of J. Jeff Kober, a foremost leader in the best business practices of not only Disney, but some of some of the top world-class organizations. You’ll see concepts not only implemented by Walt Disney himself, but by the dreamers and doers of today–creating high-tech, high-touch experiences for new generations of guests. It will leave you thinking differently about how to approach customer service in your own setting.


Book Outline

Section I: The Mind of Service

This section outlines the context, philosophy, and core of what makes a great Guest experience. Chapters include:

  • How quality is tied to Disney’s heritage
  • How understanding customers is foundational to providing great service
  • Learn about Disney’s service mission
  • Learn about Disney’s Four Keys

Section II: The Hands of Service

With a foundation in place, this section takes service in hand and makes it happen. This section of the book contains practical tools that create a great Guest experience. The focus of this section is on operationalizing the customer service experience.

Section III: The Heart of Service

There is a spirit to service, one that can only be attained by individualizing the experience and making each Guest feel valued. It comes by really listening and empathizing with others. Without this important aspect, service simply becomes “serve us.”

About the author: J. Jeff Kober is co-founder of World Class Benchmarking, which provides practical solutions in building great brands, creating high-performance cultures, and in establishing world-class results. Previously, he founded Performance Journeys, a consulting firm sharing the lessons he learned from Disney, where he was a part of the original Disney Institute. While there, his role was to benchmark all of Walt Disney World, learning amazing insights from Disney leaders who modeled excellence.

Additional Resources: Check out Performance Journeys and World Class Benchmarking, websites maintained by J. Jeff Kober. There you will find articles, blog posts, and apps written and developed by Kober for use in creating organizations that deliver excellent customer service.

A Quick Comment: 

Kober’s work, especially his books and websites, has been a highly valuable source of information in the connection of Guest service and the Disney organization. Kober’s earlier work while at the Disney Institute became the framework for the book Be Our Guest, first published by Disney in 2001 (later revised in 2011).

With an easy-to-read writing style that draws you into the world of Disney, Kober’s book offers dozen of practical, readily-applicable lessons for your organization.


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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