Newsweek: Disney Is Top Customer Service Leader

Newsweek: Disney Is Top Customer Service Leader

Disney is the Best–Kind of…

According to Newsweek: Disney provides the best customer service.

Correction! Disney is the best customer service in America.

Correction: It’s the Disney Cruise Line that offers the best customer service.

Correction: Disney Cruise Line offers better customer service than any other service provider in America.

We’re talking in this post about how and why Disney Cruise Line is better than Disney Parks & Resorts. You can find the podcast here on Podbean and here at iTunes. You can also type in Disney at Work & Play Podcast on Spotify.

On board the top deck of the Disney Dream. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

How Disney Cruise Line Stands:

Here is the top 10 of service providers according to Newsweek:

  1. Disney Cruise Line
  2. Neiman Marcus
  3. The Ritz-Carlton
  4. Edward Jones
  5. Chick-fil-A
  6. L.L. Bean
  7. National Storage Affiliates
  8. Embassy Suites
  9. Publix
  10. Beau Coup

Note that Disney ranked among cruise lines as follows:

  1. Disney Cruise Line 9.29
  2. Celebrity Cruises 8.79
  3. Royal Caribbean International 8.65

It should be noted that Disney Cruise Line was also #1 in 2018 (with Sees candies coming in 2nd!) That listing showed the following

  1. Disney Cruise Line 9.59
  2. Royal Caribbean International 8.87
  3. Carnival Cruise Line 8.77

Note that according to the industry website, Disney Cruise Line gets higher average ratings from passengers without children than from those with them. Yet it’s known as the “family friendly” cruise line.

What about Disney Parks & Resorts?

Disney Parks & Resorts did get the best customer service ranking in the “Amusement Park Experience”. Here is that placement:

  1. Disney Parks & Resorts 8.88
  2. Busch Gardens Theme Parks 8.81
  3. Lego Land 8.64
Pandora: World of Avatar at Walt Disney World. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Rankings were identified from the results of an independent survey of more than 20,000 U.S. customers over the last 3 years. Some 115,115 evaluations were collected. There were 160 categories in total, that’s how The Disney Store is ranked as #1 for Brick and Mortar Retailers: Home Goods–Toys.

  1. Disney Store 8.35
  2. LEGO 8.22
  3. American Girl 8.17

The final assessment and rankings were based on the Net Promoter Score* (50% of the final score) and five evaluation criteria (also 50% of the final score):

  • Quality of communication: measures whether the contact (via e-mail, telephone or face to face) was friendly or polite.
  • Professional competence: measures the quality of information received and whether questions were answered correctly and in sufficient detail.
  • Range of services: measures whether one’s personal expectations and requirements were fulfilled.
  • Customer focus: measures whether a personal concern/requirement was addressed with a tailored/specific solution.
  • Accessibility: measures the availability of customer service in a shop or on a helpline.

Why is Disney Cruise Line Better Than Disney Parks & Resorts?

There are many factors that impact the comparison of the two, but here are some issues at play with Disney Cruise Line’s standing over Disney’s Parks & Resorts:

  • While the average may be the same between the two, Disney Parks & Resorts hire a large number of short-term college program interns and part-time seniors. A crew member for Disney Cruise Line has a short-term 4-9 month contract, but many work for years and decades, even in front-line positions such as a server or steward.
  • While Crew Members don’t have to drive long distances to get to work, they work long days and are at sea for months with little free time. It isn’t about working conditions. Crew Members have it much harder, working every day of the week, sometimes up to 14 hours in a given day.
  • While a comparison of ratios between employees and customers may be an apple and orange comparison, Disney ships has a ratio of 1:058. Disney parks host millions of guests a year. Note that in CruiseWatch one of Celebrity Cruise top ships have a 1:0.76 ratio of crew member to passengers. Disney parks and resorts clearly don’t have that kind of ratio found on either of those ships. That may be part of the answer. But I don’t think it’s the only answer, because Disney Parks & Resorts still have better ratings that Celebrity Cruise Line despite their ratios.
  • While Disney cruise ship has a lot of offerings, it pales to the quality, number and size of attractions and offerings available in the parks. Therefore, given the scope and breadth, Disney ought to have a better setting for delivering a greater service experience.
  • A guest experience on a Disney Cruise line is catered toward multiple interactions with the same crew members–particularly your steward and your dining staff, which rotates with you to different restaurants each evening.
  • noted in a study they did, that comparing the prices of a cruise versus a stay at the Walt Disney World resort, that a Disney cruise will cost significantly more than the price of visiting the WDW resort. offered a more comparative pricing, which made one think that the two were more comparable. Still, all of it is much more expensive than anything you do outside of Disney.

Three Differences I Think Makes a Disney Cruise Line Experience Better

1. The Quality of the Work Force

This video really captures the reality of being a crew member on the Disney Cruise Line:

2. Paying Attention to Details

Special Port Canaveral Disney Cruise Line Terminal. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Paying attention to the details is in everything Disney Cruise Line does, from the moment you arrive at the terminal (and even before when booking your trip) to the day you claim your luggage.

Luggage tags delivered to your room the night before departure indicate which character zone you need to go to when finding your luggage the next day. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Jeff Vahle noted the following:

“Great service is at the heart of everything we do,” said Jeff Vahle, president of Disney Cruise Line. “If you have sailed with us, you know that our Crew Members pay close attention to the details. They take the time to understand your preferences and go out of their way to turn ordinary encounters into magical moments. It’s what we are known for at Disney, and we couldn’t be prouder of this recognition from Newsweek.”

This photo in the atrium shows many different carpet styles converging in scallop form. Note not only the main floor, but the stair case, and even the balcony to the right. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

I’ve recognized that difference in other posts, from safety to signage to even the carpets and to mosaic tiles. It is astonishing how these ships are so clean and so well kept up, and how they seem like they are brand new every time you board a ship.

One of two seating areas on board the ship that share a mosaic found in Cinderella Castle. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

3. Leadership & Empowerment

I note that to get a great experience, begins with leadership:

Disney Best Practices Global Tour
The Chain Reaction of Excellence

Leadership Excellence drives a highly engaged work force that leads to highly satisfied customers that lends itself to loyal, repeat visitation. I give this one example of service leadership in a story about cleaning up the theater after a showing of Tangled on the Disney Magic.

Souvenirs for Your Organization

  • How would you rank yourself as a customer service provider?
  • Are you benchmarking against your own organization’s standard?
  • How do you pay attention to the details?
  • How do you make sure you have the best employees possible?
  • How do you allow your leadership to excel and to be empowered to lead?

That’s it for today. If you want to know more, check out these books on Amazon:

The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney

2nd Edition of The Wonderful World of Customer Service by J. Jeff Kober.
2nd Edition of The Wonderful World of Customer Service by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney, Leadership and You

Disney, Leadership and You
Disney, Leadership and You, written by J. Jeff Kober.

J. Jeff Kober

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