What Moves Very Good To Excellent?

The following is a note I sent to all of the Cast Members at Disney World a few years ago…More at: www.LeeCockerell.com

What Makes the Difference?

Do you know what makes the difference between a Very Good rating and an Excellent rating when our Guests rate us?

Do you know what makes the difference between a Good Manager and a Great Leader when our fellow Cast Members rate us?

Do you know what, for all of time, has made the difference between Good and Great?

Well, let me tell you what makes the difference.

YOU make the difference . . . or at least YOU can make the difference.  We don’t always do what has to be done to make a difference, and that is why we have a few different words to describe those   differences in performance.  We have U for unsatisfactory; we have B for below expectations; we have M for meets expectations; we have E for exceeds expectations; and we have C for clearly outstanding.

The difference between Good and Great is so big that no calculator or computer can measure those differences, but we all know greatness when we see it.

The Difference is the HUMAN FACTOR.

Let me give you an example of how this works:

A family comes to check in at one of our resorts.   They do a rating on us later and tell us the place was clean and the check-in was quick, efficient, and professional.  Their room was clean, and they enjoyed the attractions because they were creative and fun.  They loved the parade.  They loved the bus transportation because it was efficient.  They liked our food court because it had a nice selection, it was clean, and the lines moved quickly.  Express Checkout was good; they had their luggage picked up efficiently and put in their car; and they had a nice drive home.  Everything was just fine.  No complaints!  They gave us a rating of Very Good!

Another family comes to check in at the same resort two minutes later.  They do a rating on us later and tell us that the place was clean; and the Custodial Cast Member, Daniel, gave their daughter a Minnie Mouse sticker, which she loved.  The check-in was quick and efficient, and they really appreciated how the Cast Member at the Front Desk, Mary, made a fuss over their daughter’s Minnie Mouse shirt.

Their room was clean, but they really were overwhelmed with how the Housekeeper, Maria, did special little things in their room every day with the towel animals and fussed over their daughter.  They loved the attractions because they were creative and fun, but they really appreciated the care and consideration the Attractions Host, John, showed them when they were doing the child swap.  “He was so kind and careful with our daughter, so she would not be scared.”

They loved the parade, but what they loved the most was watching their daughter receive special attention from Goofy as he invited her into the street to dance with him.

They loved the bus transportation because it was efficient, but what they really loved was Walt, the Bus Driver, who always had them laughing all the way to the parks.  He even made their daughter Bus Driver “Assistant of the Day” and gave her a driver’s license with her name on it.  “I will never forget the look on her face,” her mom said.

They loved the food court because it was clean and efficient, but what they remember the most is how special Amy made them feel when they requested a special preparation for their daughter’s macaroni and cheese.

They liked the efficient Express Checkout and the efficient handling of their luggage, but what really blew them away was Eric, the Bellman, who was so nice and considerate in answering all of their questions and going to the desk to get them a map of the area before they departed.

Everything was not just fine.  It was unbelievable,because at every turn this family received human kindness and special attention every step of the way.  This family gave us an Excellent rating.

What was the difference between the Very Good rating and the Excellent rating?

If you can answer this question and learn the lesson it teaches us, then all of our Guests will be giving us a rating of Excellent.  There is a big difference between Very Good and Excellent, and the reason the computer can’t figure it out is that it takes the Human Factor to make an experience Excellent.  Efficiency and cleanliness and creativity and all the rest cannot do it without kind, considerate human interaction.  As Walt said, “ . . . it requires people to make the dream a reality.”

What if the only answer is to make sure that all of us go out of our way every opportunity we get to make our Guests feel special, to treat them as individuals, to respect them no matter what, and to be knowledgeable so we can serve them?

  • What if this is the only answer?
  • What if efficiency is no longer enough?
  • What if creativity is no longer enough?
  • What if excitement is no longer enough?
  • What if we have to deal with each Guest in a very special way even though we serve millions?
  • What if this is the only answer?
  • What are we to do?

What we must do is figure it out, or we will not be here for the next 100 years.  We can and will touch all of our Guests in a way that moves them emotionally with human-to-human kindness and attention . . . and they will then become cherished friends and even consider themselves a part of our family.  This is one of the most important things we need to do going forward. 

Every Leader must focus on making this a part of the fabric of our operations.  Every Cast Member must understand the importance of his or her individual performance in this area.  This must be accomplished through selection of the right Cast, training of the Cast, coaching and counseling of the Cast, and through just plain-old inspired leadership.

We are doing a good job with this now.  We are better than anyone else in the world at this, but we need to move to Excellent in this area.  Every Guest who comes to the Walt Disney World® Resort must go home having experienced these kinds of interactions with our fellow Cast Members multiple times.  It is leadership’s responsibility to make this happen, and you know what?  We will because when we finally decide to do something we do it, and we do it right!   . . . Lee

PS: Happy Labor Day Everyone

  1. My commander’s coin had the same quote from Walt. I have the paperweight with it also. I stress to my staff every day that they make the difference – not the lovely pharmacy, the robotics, the speed of dispensing – the patients connect with them. Thanks!

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