Disney understands how to turn a bummer situation into loyalty

My husband (Marek) lost his iPod Touch when he and I went to Disney World last month. When we checked for it at Lost & Found, we witnessed a steady stream of people who had lost something – oftentimes, valuable somethings. Sadly, Marek’s iPod was not among the found items that day, so Disney’s Lost & Found gave us a card with a number to call to check back the next day. While we’d had a great time at the parks, losing the iPod put a damper on things.

Ever hopeful, we followed up the next day and were elated to discover that the iPod and been found and turned in.

What Disney did next was PR at its best. Because we weren’t coming back to the parks, Disney shipped Marek’s iPod home to us. For free. Because we were staying in Florida for another several days, the iPod actually beat us home. It arrived heavily wrapped in recycled packing materials in an envelope clearly marked: “FRAGILE: HANDLE WITH CARE.”

It also arrived with a dated letter printed on Walt Disney World Resort letterhead and hand-signed by someone (Dan, I think) from Lost & Found.

Here’s the majority of the letter:

“Thank you for your recent visit to the WALT DISNEY WORLD Resort.

“The Walt Disney World Theme Parks Lost & Found Department has received an item that you lost during your recent visit to our vacation kingdom, and we are pleased to mail the article to you.

“We hope your visit was memorable, and that you will have the opportunity to return in the near future.”

So here’s what’s perfect about the way Disney World handles these situations:

  1. They realize that losing an item of importance puts a damper on one’s experience with a place, even if it’s not the place’s fault. Therefore, Disney does everything in its power to revive the enthusiasm about Disney World – immediately.
  2. They provide cards with Lost & Found’s contact info so people can easily hang on to the info.
  3. They ship lost items for free. This is not something they have to do, but they do it because it deepens people’s loyalty to the Disney brand.
  4. They ship items quickly, again providing added value. I was thrilled that the iPod beat us home.
  5. By heavily wrapping the iPod and taking the extra time to label the package as fragile, they showed respect for our property.
  6. They keep selling. By including the hand-signed letter, they added a human touch to our “transaction” and also created an extra opportunity to sell the Disney name to us once again.

These are concepts that can be easily summed up and applied to any business. When something goes wrong:

  • Put yourself in the customer’s shoes.
  • Make it as easy as possible to fix the client’s problem.
  • Exceed expectations.
  • Move quickly.
  • Validate the customer’s feelings.
  • Build loyalty.
  • Keep selling (but do it appropriately).

What business lessons have you learned from what started as a bad experience?

Melissa Biernacinski serves as Director of Media Relations for Imagine Communications. Email Melissa at mbiernacinski@weareimagine.com.

 

 

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