I was just reading the current issue of IDEO’s Patterns: http://patterns.ideo.com/issue/quality_design_for_the_poor/
What caught my attention was the piece quoted below–in particular the underlined ideas at the end.
Dignity: king for a day
Sarah has been working with Disney for 10 years and loves the way the company “makes people feel so special.” She knows that many people save for years to visit Disney World. Thus, she says, “Let’s make it as magical as we can.”
Disney is a master at conferring on people the feeling of dignity and privilege. Its customers range across demographics, and Disney recognizes that for many families a trip to Disney World is the vacation of a lifetime. Disney respects this audience, and designs an experience down to the smallest details.
Unlike mainstream restaurants, where servers are encouraged to recommend the second most expensive bottle of wine on the menu, Disney servers are encouraged to suggest lower-end bottles so that guests, irrespective of their means, can feel great about any choice they make. Disney proactively identifies moments when its customers can be made to feel like a kings and queens.
See, I’m a businessman who desperately wants to believe that a business will be successful if it focuses fundamentally on serving the human needs of its customers. This entry reminded me of this, but took the idea to a new level for me. Here, it is suggested, that Walt Disney purposefully recommends guests a less expensive bottle of champagne instead of the more expensive and more profitable bottles so as to avoid guests ever thinking about wishing they could afford the more expensive bottles. This business decision too forgo short term profits in favor of creating the most enjoyable possible human experience for guests, is clearly purposeful and reflects a deep fundamental business strategy based on the belief that word of mouth advertising is the most valuable form of marketing. Walt Disney clearly believes this and is very sensitive to the small details of every guest experience. I love this story, and know from my personal experiences that the best business managers, small business owners, and entrepreneurs make a point of connecting on a personal level with customers and communicating to customers that they care more about the long term happiness their customers feel towards the business; and their actions are congruent with ideal so that the businessmen all demonstrate to the customer that–allow they are in business to make money and a living–they are not going to county pennies. They are going to do things–however–small that the customer appreciates and when doing so makes the customer feel like they are being treated like a human being and a person who consciously decides to be loyal or not with their buying decisions.