What Can Businesses Learn from Mickey Mouse?

Posted on: November 7th, 2012 by Wendy Alpine

Wendy Alpine of www.alpinepr.com shares some thoughts she learned from a seminar Disney conducted on their business philosophy.While Disney is best known for entertainment and storytelling, underneath its glam and glitter, is a “mouse” with a business-savvy mind. At least that’s what I learned when I recently attended their seminar, “Disney’s Approach to Business Excellence.” It was a daylong program to give business people a sense of “the Disney way” and why they are so successful.

Even though I was there as a small business owner, many large companies were in attendance, including McKesson, Augusta National Golf Club and Kaiser Permanente. Topics ranged from creativity and innovation to brand loyalty. While it was great PR for Disney, it also was a way for companies to learn some of their tried-and-true strategies. The main focus of the meeting was what Disney calls its “Loyalty Profit Chain.” Many businesses want to ensure that there is some form of customer loyalty program, like the customer-focused programs from Epsilon, in place to encourage repeat business.

As part of an exercise, they asked us to number the following items from 1-10, with No. 10 already filled in as Shareholder Value.

  • Employee productivity and performance
  • Internal Service Quality
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Customer Loyalty
  • External Service Quality
  • Employee Retention
  • Employee Satisfaction
  • Superior Customer Value
  • Revenue, Growth and Profitability

10. Shareholder Value

Can you guess which was No. 1?*

Turns out that the No. 1 factor in the Loyalty Profit Chain is Internal Service Quality – how Disney treats it employees, who they lovingly refer to as “cast members.” Their whole philosophy is if you treat your employees well, by providing them training, support and a level of control, they will be happy and satisfied employees. A consistent display of gratitude towards your employees is obviously a good thing, but doing so on employee appreciation day makes for the perfect time to make an extra meaningful gesture to show your team how grateful you are for their hard work. This, in turn, trickles down to happy and satisfied customers and bottom-line growth.

A common theme that frustrates employees and leads to dissatisfaction is payroll issues. As humans, it’s easy to mistakenly mess up your employee’s payroll now and again but that doesn’t make it any less irritating for your employees. Luckily, there is a way to avoid these mistakes and keep your employees content. Services like cloudpay.net manage the complexities of payroll so that you can focus solely on the frontline of your business, and not have to worry about your employees being let down. This is a great way to keep your employees happy and therefore improve the service of your business.

They gave many examples of how they educate and empower employees, with the customer always in mind. They also train their employees to go “behind the question,” such as when customers ask, “What time is the 3 o’clock parade?” Employees might be inclined to answer, “3 o’clock, duh.” Instead, they are trained to be sensitive to what customers are really asking, which is “How much time do I have to go to the bathroom?” or “Will I finish this ride before the parade starts?”

The Disney bottom line on Quality Service: Discover tools to better understand your customers and establish a common purpose that your employees can use to deliver quality service.

That ties into public relations, as often companies overlook that their biggest brand ambassadors are their employees. If employees feel their voices are being heard, receive proper training and support and are given leeway in decision-making in their jobs, chances are they will think and speak positively about their company, which is good PR. That’s Disney’s approach, and it seems to be working.

So take a tip from Mickey, whose original name was “Mortimer” by the way – treat your employees as the valuable assets they are and your bottom line will grow.

*The Loyalty Profit Chain: 1. Internal Service Quality, 2. Employee Satisfaction, 3. Employee Retention, 4. Employee Productivity and Performance, 5. External Service Quality, 6. Customer Satisfaction, 7. Superior Customer Value, 8. Customer Loyalty, 9. Revenue, Growth and Profitability, 10. Shareholder Value

Wendy Alpine
Phone: 770-321-1695
Fax: 404-806-5316
Mobile: 404-641-6170

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