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Exceptional Service Delivery: A Lesson From Disney's Jungle Cruise

When it comes to perfecting your customer experience, look for inspiration in unexpected places
Exceptional Service Delivery: A Lesson From Disney's Jungle Cruise
Image credit: Courtesy Disney Institute
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By Bruce Jones


Sailing the rivers of Asia, Africa and South America, the Jungle Cruise is a signature Walt Disney Parks and Resorts attraction that has captivated fans for years. When it first opened at Disneyland Park in 1955, it quickly became a fan favorite that has since been replicated in Disney parks around the world. Its popularity over four decades is a testament to some enduring best practices.

So what is it about this particular attraction that keeps guests coming back year after year? Hint: It’s not just the animals. While the cast members who work the attraction, called Jungle Cruise Skippers, play a critical role in the show, they also know there’s more to the overall experience.

At Disney Institute, through our work training business professionals around the world in Disney’s Approach to Quality Service training course, we’ve seen in some organizations a natural tendency to believe that service delivery emanates from people alone. Exceptional service derives from the intersection of process, place and people.

First, lets discuss Process, or the series of related activities or tasks put in place to enable the delivery of a seamless and issue-free customer experience. On the Jungle Cruise, the queue system and safe boarding procedures are just two examples of processes put in place to better serve our guests.

Place is wherever your customer meets you. We’ve found a customer’s perception of the “where” is an equally important element of the overall customer experience and can be summed in two words: everything speaks. From the moment they step into the queue, Jungle Cruise guests are immersed in the story of a forgotten tropical jungle outpost. Exotic locales come to life and guests are transported to the lush, green Amazon rainforest and stumble upon a playful elephant bathing pool.

Now, let’s talk about the special magic created by People. Imagine taking a trip on the Jungle Cruise without a Skipper. How much fun would that be? Skippers welcome guests aboard the world-famous Jungle Cruise and offer a seemingly endless string of clever jokes throughout. Their warm demeanor and punny narration turns every trip into a unique and unforgettable experience.

Because process, place and people come together from start to finish, our guests are ensured an exceptional service experience each and every time they choose the Jungle Cruise.

Now think about your business or organization. Do customers come again and again just for your great people? Just for your awesome place? Or, just for your seamless processes? Not necessarily. You, and your customers, would be far better served by looking for ways to improve all aspects of the customer experience by being intentional about your processes, your place and your people.

If there was one way to improve your Process, People or Place to create a better overall customer experience, what would it be?

For more information, visit us at DisneyInstitute.com.

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