Disney Magic Or Common Sense - A Consumer-First Philosophy

Hospitals are on the farthest end of the spectrum from the “happiest place on earth,” but some healthcare organizations are finding out they don’t have to be. One of the most unlikely suspects is now a consultant to healthcare—Disney.

According to a September 2011 report by Iconoculture, more than two dozen hospitals have signed contracts with Disney for training in better customer care. Consultation ranges from new uniforms, job rotation, personal interaction, thinking creatively and even better name tags. Granted, there are many, many lessons that Disney can teach on customer service, but I would argue those lessons are all around us every day. And there is really only one mantra that matters—“put the consumer first, in everything we do.” It need not take thousands of consulting dollars to come to this realization.


  • Every time I sit in a doctor’s office, I marvel at how my providers feel they can schedule me for a 9 a.m. appointment, usher me back at 9:20 so that I can eventually be seen at 9:45. That’s on a good day. Having my own clients, I can only imagine if I set a meeting for 9 and kept them waiting for 45 minutes.
  • In the world of CPG, there are over 300 SKUs of toothpaste in the aisle that confuse the heck out of consumers. It’s almost impossible for shoppers to find the same tube they used last time out of that dizzying line-up. But if yet another product launch helps the category leader acquire an additional foot on retail shelves, then it’s too bad for the consumer. This is one of the reasons shoppers are so promiscuous in the toothpaste aisle.
  • My step-son has cerebral palsy and walks with ankle-foot orthoses (AFOs). They are braces that support his feet and ankles and secure with Velcro straps just below the knee. That Velcro is strapped on and off hundreds of times in just one month. The Velcro wears out, and then you’re stuck using tape to keep them closed. These AFOs typically cost $600 and are custom-molded to a person’s feet. For such an investment, how hard would it be to make replaceable straps in-home? Like shoelaces!



In each of these cases, healthcare providers and manufacturers are choosing to run their businesses in a way that works for them, not the consumer. Like all things, the best way to address change is just one step at a time. If you would like to improve your customer relationship, try these simple steps:

1. Ask each member of your team to identify one idea that would be a meaningful benefit to the patient or end-user? Pick the low hanging fruit and implement it. The idea is to knock back the easy stuff.

2. Now harder -- what is the single biggest customer complaint you hear? Bend over backwards to fix it.

3. If you’ve made it through the woods on the first two, what great consumer-centric idea has your organization been talking about for years? Implement it.

For those of you who are hiring Disney, it will be a great journey for the organization. For those of you who are not, consider taking these steps to drive positive results for your business.

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