What Time is the Three O'clock Parade? Is Not a Stupid Question

This is the second in a series of ten blog posts that provide a brief synopsis of the chapters in my upcoming book, Lessons From the Mouse - A Guide for Applying Disney World's Secrets of Success to Your Organization, Your Career, and Your Life. You can view previous posts from the book by clicking on the Lessons From the Mouse category on the left column of this page.

Lesson #2: What Time is the Three O'clock Parade?
Is Not a Stupid Question

Every Disney cast member can tell you about funny questions Disney guests ask. How about "What time is the three o'clock parade?" or "Can we see where Walt Disney is frozen in the castle?" or "When will you be turning off the rain?"

In the face of such seemingly silly questions, the inviolable Disney rule is never to make a guest feel stupid. Guests are out of their comfort zones, the place can be overwhelming, and it's the cast member's job to understand and address the question behind the question. For example, when a guest asks, "What time is the three o'clock parade?" cast members know the guest really wants to know, "What time does the three o'clock parade get here?"

And those circumstances when a guest is completely in the wrong, the Disney philosophy is; "The guest may not always be right, but they will always be our guest." Stated another way, "The guest may not always be right, but let's allow them to be wrong with dignity."

Customers are not stupid - it's just that they may not know what we know. True; they didn't read the sign, buy the right part, call the right phone number, or give the right specifications. But they're not stupid. They're out of their comfort zone - and each of us has made the same mistakes when we're in an unfamiliar or confusing situation.

If we're going create or sustain customer loyalty, we have to look at every situation through the eyes of the customer. When we view situations from the customer's perspective, then and only then can we understand the question behind the question or the issue behind the issue. Then, and only then can preserve the customer's dignity as well as their loyalty.

Questions to consider about Lesson #2:

  1. What are some of the common yet bizarre customer questions or behaviors that sometimes occur in your business?
  2. In the circumstances listed in question 1, what is the question behind the question, or the issue behind the issue?
  3. How can you be sure that your customers who make a mistake are "wrong with dignity?"

Lessons From the Mouse

To be released this summer!