What a Disney Waiter Taught Me About CRM

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The simplicity was striking, the results were impressive. Several years ago my family boarded the Disney Cruise Lines for a short cruise to the Caribbean. Even though the boat had three different restaurants, the company made the decision to have the wait-staff follow the customer to each restaurant.

On the first night our waiter John came over and introduced himself and explained to us that he would be with us throughout the cruise for each of our diner meals. From that conversation forward he was like a well-maintained CRM machine. I ordered a diet coke with lemon, my wife ordered water with lemon; my son ordered a coke and my daughter ordered a diet coke. Later in the meal, I commented on how great the flat bread was that was served with several other breads in a basket. When it came time for dessert, my wife asked which chocolate dessert was the best choice. It was a nice but normal meal.

The next night, the magic began. As soon as we are seated John walks to the table with a tray of drinks. He sat the diet coke with lemon at my plate, the coke in front of my son, the water with lemon in front of my wife and handed the plain diet coke to my daughter. Also on his tray was a basket of bread 3/4ths filled with that amazing flat bread. As the meal progressed, he asked us about our day and how the snorkeling trip went? I remembered that I had mentioned in passing the night before that we were going on a snorkeling trip. And – you guessed it – when we were ready for dessert John looked at my wife and said, “You don’t want to miss the chocolate mousse tonight. It is the best chocolate dessert on the boat.”

Wow – I thought – how did he do that? He was serving probably 10 other tables. So the next night I watched him from the moment we came into the restaurant. There it was – a small red journal that he picked up and reviewed prior to coming to our table. That was his CRM system – the little red journal. I later told him that I worked as a consultant in customer experience and asked about the journal. He seemed a little embarrassed but explained that it was something that he did for all of his customers. He kept notes on what each person and each table liked and talked about. He said he found that it made his job easier and seemed to allow him to build relationship with his customers.

At the end of the week when it was time to sign for John’s tips for the week, I have to say there was a little something extra in his envelope. I can only imagine that it was the same for most of the other travelers that were served by John.

So – what do you know about your customers? Not just demographics but likes and dislikes? Does your CRM system allow your employees to keep simple yet effective data about your customers? Do your employees understand the reason that the data is there? Do they use it to delight their customers?

I also had another thought as I left the Disney ship; how great would it be to keep a journal on the likes and dislikes of my employee team? Simple things like – what is there passion? What is their value? What have they done that sets them apart from others? Could this same journal allow me to track success and provide a reminder of what each employee needs to reach the next level of success?

Thanks John and Disney for teaching me the value of simple CRM.

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