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FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM APRIL 2010

Ron Ruth
Ron Ruth
Last month’s article regarding Disney’s science of “guestology” and how they continually survey park guests to gather demographic and psychographic data for the betterment of their service theme prompted a number of responses from DJN subscribers.
After the article, and as something of an aside, readers were invited to email me for a complimentary copy of the post-event survey that I use. I am surprised at the number of requests received. Quite a few rquests came with a question similar to this: “I already survey but have difficulty getting my clients to return them. What can I do to improve my return ratio?”
“Clientology,” last month’s reference to Disney’s “guestology,” is an ever evolving practice. If clients are not returning your surveys, you may need to re-evaluate your questions. But it may also speak volumes to the relationship you had with the client in the first place.
I believe a strong relationship with a client is as important as the quality of a performance. A true relationship or friendship, however, takes time and effort. It goes far beyond contractual obligations and a single planning meeting. But, establishing a relationship also allows you to continually build trust and gather psychographic data about a client’s mental state and their varying wants, needs, preconceived notions and emotions.
Simply stated, you’re able to track how a client feels about the process during the process and, equally important, how they feel about you and the service you deliver. Those observations and information will let you know if you are on the right path to assuring that client’s happiness. If not, you can make course corrections that will put the client at ease and reinvigorate the relationship.
When a client likes you for who you are and for more than just the job you performed, they will be eager to help you after the event.
Peter Merkle, a Chicago DJ and friend, told me that the greatest compliment he receives comes from his client’s guests after a wedding reception. And, it comes in the form of a question; “How long have you been friends with the bride and groom?” I couldn’t agree more. That is a tremendous compliment. The question alone speaks to the relationship he has with his couples. And, it’s a safe bet that the question is prompted by how he addresses the newlyweds throughout the reception. There is a sincere tone to the care he has for their happiness. By the time Peter performs at a bride and groom’s reception, he is their friend
When my wife and I return from a vacation to Walt Disney World, we are sometimes asked to complete an online survey. Because we are treated so well during our visit and every Cast Member goes out of their way to ensure that we are having the most fabulous time of our lives, I’m disappointed when I’m not asked to be a part of the sample group.. We love the sincere effort made to know who we are and what we want. We value that relationship and are more than anxious to sing the praises of those that made us happy.
Conversely, I recently had my windshield replaced by a nationally known company. The repairman came to my home, replaced the glass, said “thank you” and moved on to his next job. He was a nice guy. He did what he came to do and I didn’t expect him to spend a lot of time getting to know me. A day or so later, I received an on-line satisfaction survey. Admittedly, I ignored it. Why? I had no motivation to complete it as I wouldn’t be violating a trusted relationship.
A week or so later, I noticed a rattle coming from my windshield that could only be heard while traveling at highway speed. I called the glass company and they sent a “technician” to my home to check it out. The tech immediately discovered that the installer failed to get the trim replaced correctly. After a few minutes of assuring that the pieces had been properly snapped back into place, he offered to go on a test drive with me to ensure the problem was solved. The nearest highway to my home is 10 minutes away, but it didn’t matter. Thirty minutes later, we returned to my house where I thanked him for his trouble and his time.
Within 4 hours I received another satisfaction survey from the glass company. This one did not go ignored. I was a little giddy filling it out because my problem had been addressed with such care and with little more than an investment of time to ensure I was happy. This is just the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Want to guess what glass company I will refer?
We’ve all heard the expression: “Treat your customers as you would want to be treated.” At Disney, a similar statement reads: “Treat the guest as they expect to be treated.” Learn as much as you can about your client. Knowing what you’ll need to do to exceed their expectations will be as easy as making it happen. Plus, you’ll have a loyal friend for life.
Right now we’re all looking for ways to add value to our services that will make us stand apart from our competition and we want to do that without adding expense. Relationship building is simply an investment of time. Instead of meeting with a wedding client only once before their big day, consider a planning schedule that will allow you to get together on 2 or 3 occasions. Talk about them. Ask questions, lots of questions…but about them! Engage in conversation as though you were talking to a friend. Don’t be afraid to share a little something about yourself or to share in their excitement. Build trust.
The rewards are far greater than getting a client to return a survey. Combined with exceptional customer service and a stellar performance, it will become the catalyst for many more referrals.
After all, who isn’t excited about referring someone to a trusted friend?


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