Walt Disney has ruined me.

Earlier this year, my family made a trip to Walt Disney World and had a magical time at the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Everything you hear about Disney is 100 percent true. The characters and staff treat you and your family (specifically a three-year-old daughter who loves princesses) as nicely as you could ever wish for. On top of that, Disney thinks of pretty much everything to improve your experience.

That’s why earlier this summer, when my family took a trip to a local attraction (no names please but it was north of the border and involved animals), I was shocked at our customer experience. We had never been to this attraction before but had heard good things from pretty everyone who already had visited.

Maybe I’m just noticing more things (or getting to be a crusty old man at 34 years old), but they stood out to me

Why Customer Service Matters

It started when we pulled into the parking lot. The attraction opened around 10 a.m.. and we arrived a little after 11 a.m. It’s an enormous parking lot and there weren’t any employees directing vehicles into parking spots. (This came about a week after going to a local county fair where they had numerous employees packing in cars like sardines)

Anyway, the only direction was some small sandwich boards that had arrows and said “Parking This Way.” Like any good visitor, I followed the signs, only to find no open parking spots in that row where the last arrow pointed. It wasn’t hard to find an open parking spot, but just a minor annoyance.

Then it was to the ticket window. Luckily, we found a short line next to the membership entrance and only had about a 15-minute wait. If we had stayed in our original line, it would have taken 30-60 minutes to get into the facility. This one was more annoying than the parking lot experience and I could tell numerous people were annoyed. (But it’s Canada, so people never get really mad, except when their hockey team loses).

Now, when you travel with a three-year-old for a couple of hours, the first stop is always the bathroom. Being a male, the cleanliness of the bathroom isn’t as big of a deal because you don’t have to touch as many things as a female. To me, it was just a regular dirty bathroom at a major attraction (maybe a little dirtier than usual.) However, when my wife came out with our daughter, her description was borderline disgusting. Again, we haven’t done anything and had three bad experiences.

customer-experience-staffingThe first exhibit we saw was to wait in a long line to see the panda bears. These panda bears are moving to Vancouver in March, so the line was pretty long (side note: I learned from a friend that local commercials were advertising a last chance to see the panda bears, which could explain the crowd.)

This wasn’t the first day people have waited more than an hour to see these mesmerizing bears, so the attraction couldn’t have been surprised. There was a sign at the start that said “no washrooms” but it still surprises me there were no options available. On top of that, there was no food or drink available on a decently hot day (about half of the wait was outside). Another thing that just added up to our experience.

Overall, we had a good day. There are a lot of animals that you don’t normally get to see and our daughter had fun, which is what counts, right?

Ironically, the nicest and most energetic person we saw the entire day was a security officer watching the gate upon exiting. He seemed genuinely happy and engaged with the departing customers. They need more of that attitude everywhere!

What’s my point here? Customer experience is enormous. Before even paying our admission, I had two negative experiences, and then two more in our first hour at the attraction. Did it ruin our day, no. Could I see it ruining the day for other people, yes. Will it affect our decision to go back next summer, quite possibly.

Where don’t I expect a negative experience, back at Walt Disney World in February.

Keep that in mind with all of your interactions with clients and candidates. The first time they come across your staffing agency will make an enormous impression. Make sure it’s the one you want.

Give a Great First Impression

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