Disneyland employees are in character, are yours?

No, I’m not talking about Mickey Mouse, Tinkerbell, and Buzz Lightyear. I’m talking about every ride operator, ticket seller and popcorn afficianado who frequent Main Street every single day and help thousands of Disney guests. They are in character. Yours need to be too, otherwise people won’t come back. Especially millennials.

Happiness is the Disney brand — utopia. Walt wanted his park to be the happiest place on earth. Every single person that works in frontierland is a part of making Guests happy. Millions of people refer to Disney Parks as magical. Magic is created by great IP, attention to detail and innovation - but it will always be the people that sell it. When you see a Cast Member who is dressed in safari attire that 100% believes the magic is real, it rubs off. Their passion becomes your passion.

Cast members have a freedom to help guests have fun. It’s all part of this ecosystem that is reinforced by the brand and by the practices they put in place to make people happy. It’s very simple — it’s not the marketing. Cast members are in character, and that character is them at their best. Ready to welcome. Ready to help. Ready to enjoy the experience of connecting with other people. When they succeed, people associate their positive experiences with the brand. Oversimplified, when they think about the brand, they feel good. Companies are more profitable and customers are happy. That’s what customer experiences are, but unfortunately it is often overlooked in favor of more expensive marketing.

We live in a world where we have to understand how emotions impact sales. There are experts and entrepreneurs that have built entire businesses on understanding the emotional impact of marketing. What is neglected are the human interactions online, over the phone, and across the counter. If these don’t line up with the brand and create the appropriate emotions in the customer, it’s game over. There are products that I love that I don’t use because people ignore me when I go in to their store. On the surface it seems contradictory, but that is the trend of millennial shoppers. Your live chat agent or your cashier has to be in character. Define what you want your customers to feel and teach your people how to get them there.

If your brand was a person, how would they stand? Do they smile? What words do they use? What words wouldn’t they use? What would they wear? Define these things and hold them firm. Your employees need to be in character. Your brand’s character.

Once you’ve defined that, allow people the freedom of finding that voice for themselves so it can be authentic. This is the missing link that if ignored, creates robots. Scripted, automatic, emotionless drones that no one wants to interact with. Define what your customers need, then build your team accordingly. Higher, promote, and reward the behaviour you want, and don’t waiver from your vision. Even if your team is almost all millennial, entry-level workers, they will respond if you keep it simple. Every generation appreciates authentic character, both as a customer and as an employee. Is your team in character?

Jess Kovatch