Posted on February 12, 2009 by Dennis Snow
One of the most popular songs from the Disney film, Beauty and the Beast, was the song, “Be Our Guest.” Belle, the heroine of the film, is enthralled by the magical preparations of a spectacular dinner as the animated candelabra, Lumiere, sings “Be Our Guest.” It’s a fitting song for a Disney film since the company has a long history of referring to its customers as “guests.”
Walt Disney’s philosophy at Disneyland was that they didn’t have customers, they had welcome guests. It was a mindset he worked to instill in the park’s cast members. Keep in mind that prior to Disneyland, amusement parks were often dirty and unsafe places, staffed by gruff, surly employees. Walt’s vision was for Disneyland’s visitors to feel that they were guests in his home, and he expected every cast member to treat them that way.
The guest philosophy is applicable to any business, whether or not you call your customers clients, patients, residents, or customers. Thinking of customers as guests helps to move away from a task mindset to mindset focused on building relationships.
The image of a customer is often one of a transactional nature. The company provides a service or product and the customer gives the company money. But the image of a guest is very different. It’s the difference of how you might treat a door-to-door salesperson versus how you treat an invited guest to your home. When a guest is visiting we are likely to:
Imagine if your customers were treated that way during every interaction with your organization. Imagine how they would feel about your company and how they would describe it to others. Imagine how it would affect their loyalty.
I’m not advocating actually starting to refer to your customers as guests, although I’m not against it. What I’m advocating is adopting the mindset of treating customers as welcome guests. That mindset can’t help but change the way a company interacts with its customers.
Are you inviting customers to “be our guest?” Are you treating them that way?