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Closing gracefully helps improve customer loyalty

“And now it’s time to say goodbye to all our family. M-I-C See you real soon! K-E-Y Why? because we like you! M-O-U-S-E…….”

For those of you mature enough to remember this song, it is one of the best and most widely known examples of graceful goodbyes. At the end of the Mickey Mouse Club, characters like Jimmy and Annette would faithfully sing the song which:

  1. Let the viewers know that it was time for them to go
  2. Welcomed viewers back again
  3. Let viewers know how much they are appreciated

And it was extremely effective!

What can we as leaders learn from the Mickey Mouse Club? The real answer it LOTS! And in this context- we’ll focus on graceful goodbyes. When we look for employee behaviors that are aligned with great customer service to build customer loyalty, we typically think of smiling, eye contact and a friendly greeting. However, as leaders, we seldom go deeper into the “how” around customer interactions that are slightly more involved and potentially more volatile...like having a customer comply with a safety request or more commonly, providing a graceful goodbye while departing a venue at closing time.

The latter of the two above is especially prevalent in venues where large amounts of customers or visitors need to leave in a certain amount of time; such as a museum, a shopping mall, a retail, restaurant or sporting venue, or even the Magic Kingdom.

When this closing interaction is handled poorly, the entire customer experience is destroyed. Customers understandably get upset and they let leaders know about it. On the flip side, when this interaction is handled gracefully, customers are appreciative, customer satisfaction increases, and you in effect improve customer loyalty.

FIX CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE FAILS IMPROVE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

To mitigate service fails, eliminate complaints, and improve customer loyalty around closing time, follow these 4 must-do’s for a Graceful Goodbye:

  • Initiate a process that communicates closing time to your customers as they enter your venue. Use service-friendly signage, employee scripting brochures, and/or apps.
  • As closing time approaches, pleasantly (proper volume, tone ) notify your visitors 30, 15, and 5 minutes from closing time. A public address system can be used with caution- think of a cruise ship with a pleasant 3 ring tone announcing the message, or a nice tune. Or, the message can be delivered verbally through individual employees. This process eliminates the “surprise” for a customer who is engaged within your venue and allows them to properly plan a rest room or shop visit before departure.
  • Invite your visitors back the next day, let them know the opening time and that you’re looking forward to seeing them again. “See ya real soon” is how the Mickey Mouse Club approached it.
  • Walk visitors/quests to the exits, gently guiding their departure, while entertaining them, and making them feel special and appreciated along the way. “Why? Because we like you!”

Walt Disney World and Disneyland do a great job with this. Disney security hosts and hostesses start at the back of the park and slowly “herd” guests to the front of the park, and to the exits. As a result, guests rarely feel like they are being asked to leave.

Planning for delightful customer experiences to improve customer loyalty goes beyond just being friendly. Successful organizations plan for all types of scenarios and ensure their people, place and processes support exceptional employee and customer experiences even when saying, “goodbye”, and you can too!

What can you do to improve your closing procedures?

Designing your customer experience [free template]

 ABOUT DONNELLY EFFECT: With over 20 years of Disney leadership experience, Mike Donnelly, Chief Experience Officer (CEO) of Donnelly Effect shares his insights on Talent Selection and Hiring, Employee Onboarding, Customer Experience, Service Culture and Leadership- among others. Donnelly Effect is home of the exclusive "World-Class Workshop" series and offers consulting services and keynote addresses to audiences of all sizes and industries. Since 2007, Mike Donnelly has been a contracted Disney Institute Facilitator, delivering Disney customer service training to audiences across the United States. 

 

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