I write this on a plane on the way home from a few days in Disneyland Paris with the kids. I must say that after several previous trips and a few Florida Disney holidays, I have always been someone that has held up Disney as one of the best examples of providing a high level of customer service, a company for others to seek to emulate. They have always put their “guests” first and done whatever it takes to ensure that their guests remember their experience for the right reasons. Sadly, this is not my recent experience.
There are two situations that come to mind that left us feeling very let down. With a daughter who needed to use her wheelchair as she is unable to walk great distances, we have previously joined the disabled queue for some of the rides. We were surprised to be stopped from joining this queue at one of our favourite rides and to be asked for proof of our daughter’s disability. We protested that there had never been a problem before, but were told that we now needed to have a card to enable him to allow us through – it was a new French law (maybe a reason to think about voting for Brexit?!). I had to take her to the City Hall at the other end of the park to arrange for the card to be issued. We went and spoke to a female “cast member” about the situation and she proceeded to issue us with a “Priority Access” card. She seemed surprised that we had been sent there as they usually have a call and go to the ride to sort out the issue. I explained that we had been in City Hall when we first came in, but the two girls that we saw never mentioned the need for the card – despite seeing our daughter in a wheelchair. The card was issued, along with a voucher for a free soft drink for us all as a gesture of goodwill (!!) and we headed back. Not a good start to our short visit.
The next day we were looking forward to seeing the reaction of our foster daughter as she watched the parade for the first time. In the special area designated for wheelchairs, only one person could accompany our daughter in her wheelchair – even though there were others where the whole family were together. There were two sections roped off with the disabled signs on – one in use and the other to be used when that was full, and I took the other two girls to the section beyond the empty one.We were quite near the front and waited. On the other side of the path for the parade was another small section that was full of people. Shortly before the parade, the people from this section were brought to the empty section between us. There were about 25-30 people in a section that could have held 300+! Seeing a gap at the front of the section next to us, several of us sent our kids to the front of it to have a better view. It wasn’t long before a big burly fella (not staff) came over shouting and gesticulating with his arms for the children to come back, and he then called on the 4 staff in that section to ensure that we were all kept in our place. I asked Julien, one of the “cast members” what the problem was with the children being there, but he completely ignored me and continued to move our children back. Others moved their children back in there so I sent our foster daughter back, and a few minutes later, a female cast member was sending our daughter back again. I eventually got an answer from her that the section was reserved!!
Why were these people moved from the area they were in originally to use such a large section? Why was that empty section not opened to the area we were in for everyone to get a better view – as we heard later had happened the previous day? Why were the staff so rude in sending the children back and not talking to us and explaining why our children were not allowed to have a better view? This one man was obviously more concerned on others encroaching on his “reserved place” (which was not the space he had originally reserved) than on other little children getting a good view of the parade. The Disney I know would have opened that section to the general public and not moved a handful of people that reserved a space. The Disney I know would have been proactive in getting the children into a place where they could have a better view of their favourite characters. Is this down to a change in Disney philosophy and being blinded by money, or is it the French not getting the ideas and culture of the American company and its founder Walt Disney? Whichever, these combined with a few other things that didn’t go right mean that I won’t be rushing to go back.
It made me think. What are you and/or your organisation known for? What do people expect when they hear your name, or that of the organisation that you work for? Do you deliver that? Do you keep your standards up? It is so easy to let things slip and then your whole reputation can disappear. If you realise – or someone tells you – that the service that you provide is slipping, please sit up, take notice – and do whatever it takes to get it back.