Last week I ordered a gift card. It was after midnight and way past Cinderella’s bedtime. I processed the online order too fast and didn’t notice the delivery address defaulted to my house. Ugh! I forgot to change it to my cousin’s address, and now her wedding gift was going to be even later than planned. No big deal, but I was a little bummed about my rookie mistake.

So the next morning I called the Disney 800 number to see if I could change the delivery address. Here’s how it went:

I reached a pre-recorded message, saying: "Thank you for holding. Our cast members are currently assisting other guests but your wait will be less than 10 minutes. In the meantime, please enjoy some of our classic Disney music." And then, 3 minutes later, I got a live person... (Under-promised, over-delivered)

"Good morning and welcome to Disney Store Guest Services! My name is Darius. How can I make your day more magical?" (I smiled.)

"Ah yes, here's your order. May I call you by your first name, Rene?" (Why yes, of course, Darius!)

"Hmm, I'm not sure we can change the delivery address as your order is already in progress. May I put you on hold for a minute as I'll need to speak with my fairy godmother?" (OMG. LOL. As it turned out, I could change the delivery address for $14.95.)

"Thank you very much, Rene. Again, my name is Darius and I hope you have a pixie-dust perfect Friday!" (Believe it or not, the delivery was emphatic and sincere and not at all obnoxious or stilted. Amazing. I'll bet there’s a different closing line for every day of the week.)

Before I could hang up the phone, I was already giggling and shaking my head in disbelief. “Damn! They’ve still got it,” I said aloud in my office.

My children are older teens now, so it’s been a long time since I’ve had a good dose of Disney magic -- and there it was again. Same as ever. Knocking my socks off and making me feel like a special kid.

I recounted my experience with Darius for my team. After all, we’ve nicknamed our printer WALL•E and our databases are Buzz and Nemo (earlier incarnations were called Mickey and Goofy). While professional services have become increasingly impersonal, we’re extremely proud of the relationships we’ve built -- decade-long relationships where business colleagues become enchanting friends.

Disney and Darius reminded me of some basic tenets of customer service that all companies should adhere to -- but most do not. Lee Cockerell, a former executive vice president of pperations for the Walt Disney World resort, shares tips for a Disneyesque experience in his book, Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney. Here are three of my favorite strategies:

Everyone is important. We know Disney is recognized and admired for its mind-blowing parks, cast members and retail store experiences, but I wasn’t expecting their unique culture to dazzle me on the 800 line. From street sweepers at a park to attendants on the phone, every time your company comes into contact with a customer, you have the opportunity to create value.

Make your people your brand. Darius was “all in,” 100 percent Disney. He undoubtedly survived a rigorous interview process and received intensive training. Does every single employee engagement with customers reflect the values of your company? Why not?

Give people a purpose, not just a job. I’m not sure how long it took Darius to stop laughing when he first found out he had to wish people a “pixie-dust perfect” day, but I could tell from his voice and delivery that this was not just a script and a job. Helping people is his calling, and his sincerity made me want to do my job better, too.

The next time you engage with your customer, try to make their day special somehow in a sincere, authentic way. If you sprinkle a little pixie dust here and there, it's sure to come back to you.

Published on: Oct 25, 2012