Why Disney Does Not Need Mystery Shopping


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Disney parks do not need to be mystery shopped.

We know when Snow White’s skirt is the wrong shade of yellow or when the blush in her cheeks is not quite right. We know when her smile is slightly off or her hands are not quite moving at the right speed.

This is not an accident. This is a result of a carefully managed brand where Disney has articulated clear expectations to their employees who are then charged to communicate them to its customers.

We know when the brand promise of “A Disney Experience” is being upheld or broken by the characters in the park. We know if the fireworks over the Magic Castle did not look quite right this evening.

This explicit communication is why comments like the one below can be posted on MysteryshopForum.com and we all nod in agreement — and a little bit of envy.

…when I worked at Disney World at the most popular attraction in the parks, we were NOT mystery shopped. Our performance was MORE than evaluated by our customers. If we did something wrong, customers would report it to managers in a heartbeat, and if we did something right, we usually got reported for that too and rewarded. In the parks, there’s probably very little need of mystery shoppers.

As a mystery shopping company, we’d be crazy to suggest that you don’t need to do mystery shops, but in the event you never want to do another mystery shop again, the formula is simple; just do what Disney does. Invest in articulating a brand promise. Train your employees to deliver that brand promise every minute of every day. Your customers will get to know the boundaries of your brand and know when you are — and are not — delivering it to them.

A critical part of service with boundaries is recognizing you can’t be everything to everyone. Even Disney is not everything to everyone but they know who they. Their brand promise did not come about by accident. Someone sat down and said, “This is who we are. How do we get there with our customers.” Disney then set out to implement that vision, measuring behaviors against the brand promise every day, with every customer interaction, with every product and with every employee until the brand promise became who they were naturally.

If you mystery shop against an ideal, that is not an effective shop. It may be a one-time project that helps you identify what your brand promise should be or how you stack against your competitors, but it is not a good on-going strategy. When you start with articulating and communicating your brand promise, only then is mystery shopping an effective way to measure how well you are delivering is and offers you an opportunity to correct aberrations.

Repeat until your brand promise is internalized with your employees and your customers.

David Rich
David Rich is President/CEO of ICC/Decision Services. He has contributed articles to or been cited professionally in Smart Money, Progressive Grocer, Fortune, Food Trade News, Quirk's, Store's and Inc Magazines. He is a past president of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) and an active member in National Association of Retail Marketing Services. David earned a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.


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