The Keys to the Kingdom: More important than your product
Last week, I spent some time with the family at Walt Disney World. While we did all the expected Disney family activities, I did do one “No Kids” activity, which was to take their Keys to the Kingdom backstage tour.
While there were lots of interesting backstage and historical facts shared throughout the tour for the Disney Tourist part of my brain, there was an interesting take-away for the work-side of my brain. You see, there was a dual meaning in the “Keys to the Kingdom” title of the tour. We did get a number of doors and gates unlocked, getting to see backstage and under the park in the “Utilidors.” In addition, we also learned all cast members work from a prioritized list of four “keys” that they employ in their daily tasks; SAFETY, COURTESY, SHOW and EFFICIENCY. In any situation, these four keys guide the cast members in their interaction with the visitors to the park.
Safety is always first for a reason and trumps all the other keys. For example, in the past, security officers were part of the SHOW and were dressed according to the theme of the area of the park they were stationed: different hat/shirt/tie combinations. However, in recent years, all Disney security officers now wear the same uniform, no matter in which part of the park they are working. In the event that someone is in need of help, they don’t have to think about “what does a security officer in Frontierland wear vs what does a security officer in Epcot’s Future World wear.” They all wear the same dark blue pants, light blue shirt and eight-point police cap. This gives up a bit of the SHOW, but it is better for the SAFETY of the guests.
In another example, I asked a random employee in one of the resort hotels about the location of a particular restaurant. Rather than just point me in the right direction, he dropped what he was doing and walked my party and I right to the front door of the restaurant. It was more important to be COURTEOUS that it was to be EFFICIENT in whatever his actual job was.
The point of this is when I realized that SHOW (which I always think of as the real Disney Product) was third on the list. They have a great product, but there are things even more important than their product when dealing with their customers. When we think of our companies, looking for ways to differentiate ourselves from our competitors, there is a lesson to be learned from Disney. You may have the best product in the industry, but you need to find those things that you can do for your customer that are even more important than that product, so that you can differentiate yourself from your competitors and keep your customers, even on that day when someone comes up with a new product or feature that makes their product (even for a short time) better than yours.