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What Time is the 3 O’Clock Parade?

Part 1- Unpacking the Customer Experience Lessons from Disney

On any given day in the Magic Kingdom you may hear a guest ask a Cast Member a seemingly obvious question,

“What time is the 3 o’clock parade?”

Instead of using it as a great way to deliver a condescending answer with a “did you just hear yourself ask that question,” tone, Disney Cast Members turn it into an opportunity to exceed expectations.

The Disney Institute has used this question for years to train park employees to look beyond the straight forward question at hand:

What is the Guest really asking? What is it they really need?

Have you been to a Disney Resort before? If so, you realize that the entire day becomes about time management. Or more accurately, attraction management.

You’ve got four little kids that all want to go different places and experience different things. The girls want to get dresses and have their hair done at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. The boys want to ride the Matterhorn and have a real life lightsaber fight with Darth Maul. Mom and Dad know they’ll need to plan food breaks and a moment or two to rest. So the real question is, “How can we make the most of our time today and experience all the rides and shows that we want before the park closes?”

So when Guests ask, “What time is the 3 o’clock parade,” what are they really asking?

“If I’m in Frontier Land, what time will the parade get to me?”

“Where should I go to get a great spot?”

“Do I have time to ride Space Mountain and still see the parade?”

Even though the answer to the initial question seems glaringly obvious, it

“offers an opportunity to exceed Guests’ expectations and make them feel special by further personalizing their experience.”

The short, blunt customer service answer would be, “3 o’clock.”

The customer experience answer would be, “Tell me what your plans are?”

It’s one of the small details that makes Disney the happiest place on earth. Disney has moved beyond SERIVCE to EXPERIENCE. Everyone in one place going out of their way to make sure you have the best day possible. In order to provide an exceptional experience, Disney knows they must

“understand each customer’s needs and wants, and be able to respond accordingly in the service moment.”

So what is the 3 o’clock parade question in your practice? What are your patients’ really asking? What are their needs and wants.

It’s easy to respond with advanced dental care, optimal oral health or a beautifully white smile, but it probably goes deeper than that. Put yourself in the patient’s shoes and finish this sentence,

“I go to my dentist to ____________________.”

That 37 year old mother is probably looking forward to her appointment because it’s the only moment she has to herself. She goes to the dentist to RELAX.

How could you structure your experience (appointments) to meet those needs and wants?

Maybe adding soothing music to the operatory. Maybe her hygienist limits the conversation and allows her to rest. Maybe the practice hires a masseuse that offers a ten minute hand massage while she’s in the chair.

Let’s be honest. It’s 2016. It’s no longer enough to provide just good dental service. Choreographing an exceptional patient experience creates a competitive advantage that will be the most important factor in your practice’s success. Start by seeking to understand your patients’ needs and wants and transform your customer service into a customer experience.

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