A Lesson in Problem Solving from Disney

At the end of the summer, I took my kids to Disney World in Florida. If you have been following my writing for the past few years, you know that I am tremendously impressed with their technology (MagicBands and the My Disney Experience app) and their relentless effort to improve.

But I have also written about their customer service in the past and they continue to shine in that regard. However, they don’t get everything right. What stood out for me during this trip was how they handled the problems when they arose.

My stay at the hotel had a few bumps in the road. Our MagicBands weren’t connected properly to our hotel room. Needless to say, with three kids and corresponding carry-on bags, this was problematic.

The delay was no more than 20 minutes. However, without asking, we were provided with two additional fast passes for each member of the family, allowing us to move near the front of the lines. These passes likely saved us over an hour of waiting in lines.

We also had a small issue with a delivery we were expecting. We ordered groceries to the room so the kids had snacks and drinks, but the milk was missing. After a 20-minute search, my patience was gone. The concierge who was helping me walked with me to the sundry shop, asked me to pick out the milk I wanted, as well as ice cream to make up for the aggravation (I declined) and she paid for the milk.

The concierge didn’t need to seek permission. She had the authority  not only to fix the problem, but also to make sure I was happy. Because it happened so seamlessly, it worked. If she had to discuss the situation with a supervisor, it would have exacerbated the problem.

Problems happen in any business, and definitely in office buildings. The power goes out, the elevator doesn’t work, there’s a leak or a flood, or the trash isn’t removed on time. Things happen. How those problems are handled is the key. Disney takes the time to hire the right people, train them, and then most importantly, empower them to act. The people that I dealt with were able to make decisions, seemingly without the fear of making the wrong one, to fix problems.

In your office buildings, is property management authorized to get the problems fixed or are there levels of red tape to spend money? Is the staff at the building equipped to have conversations with angry tenants or will they further upset already angry tenants by having to defer to their superiors?

It starts from the top. Does ownership empower property management? Do they hire the right people to instill confidence in tenants and smooth the issues? Do those people take ownership of the process and follow up?

If I were hiring someone for a property management role, or any customer service role, I would try to find someone who previously worked at Disney. They not only understand how to deal with people and problems, they are accustomed to being empowered to make decisions. Many people, even when they are empowered, simply won’t make a decision for fear of making the wrong one.