Have you experienced the magic of Disney World or Disneyland first hand? If you have, do you remember how magical of an experience it was? I remember it like it was yesterday. The sheer scale was enormous and I don’t know how we fit in time to visit every park, but we did. I remember the great food, the excitement on our faces of seeing our favorite Disney characters, and appreciating how well done everything was. It was a truly immersive experience and everything exceeded expectations, including every staff member you interacted with. Disney takes “Be Our Guest” to a whole other level. Whether you’re a child or young at heart, everyone enjoys the customer experience or “be our guest” mentality that the theme parks exude.

At the 2019 Financial Brand Conference, Doug Lipp, Former Head of Training at Disney, shared a few secrets of building an enduring brand.  Many of the lessons he shared originated from Walt Disney himself or Van France who founded Disney University.

Lesson 1: Keep ‘plussing’ (+) the show
Walt Disney’s first lesson was “We have to keep ‘plussing’ the show. If we ever lose them, it will take us ten years to win them back.” Thus, they created parks that were clean enough to eat off the streets and everyone, including Mr. Disney, helped clean. Mr. Lipp shared an iconic picture of Walt wiping down a garbage can. This picture is legendary and part of Disney University training. In order to ensure excellence, Van France was known to have walked the park about 26 miles a day. He truly defined management by walking around. These walks around the parks, frequently with a camera without film, allowed him to learn firsthand the feelings of guests. His camera was a prop that opened the door to candid conversations with guests.

This is a great lesson. In order to maintain high levels of customer service, you must walk the same journey your customers do and experience your bank from their viewpoint. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers questions about their experience. This is the best way to learn and “keep plussing” or continual improving the customers’ experience.

Lesson 2: Simplify the complex with clear priorities
New hires, regardless of the industry, are often bombarded with an infinite number of standard operating procedures. Disney elects to only train on the high priority items that make them the “happiest place on earth,” to Disney those are how, safety, courtesy, show and capacity. These key principles are reinforced at the one-year anniversary milestone when employees describe how they personally witnessed these in their first year.

Most companies focus on technical competencies but often place less of a focus on the principles of the company. Teach your employees clear priorities and instill in them the principles that are most important to your company culture. This, in turn, will help clarify your identity to your clients and customers, establishing an image that the public can recognize and distinguish from the rest.

Lesson 3: Trust plus Training equals Moments of Magic
If you trust your employees and they are trained appropriately, they will respond appropriately to create moments of magic. This ingrained behavior will respond when things don’t go exactly as planned. Culture is what people do every day without being told what to do. Start trusting your employees and training them on the clear priorities, and see what moments of magic your company will create.

Yes, the above lessons originated from a family fun destination but they can apply to banking and all industries. Using this approach has made Disney an iconic brand with a service culture that is revered. Today, many businesses should embrace these philosophies and adapt this approach to their organization to take their customer experience to the next level.

I challenge you to evaluate your customers’ current experience and “plus it” to think of how you can make it even better.