Good And Bad Service On The Shore Of The Seven Seas Lagoon

Last Friday night during our quick trip to Walt Disney World, we went over to the Polynesian Resort to Captain Cook’s for a Dole Whip, which is probably my favorite treat in all of Walt Disney World. It was a beautiful evening, and the Dole Whip was really good. After taking a few pictures, our plan was to catch the monorail back to the Magic Kingdom, where Michael and Ashley would take Hadley back to their room at the All-Star Movies Resort, while the rest of us would go to the Wilderness Lodge to look around.

Our plans changed. An incident on the monorail right there at the Polynesian shut down that line of the monorail system for a while, and we were advised to hop on a boat. When we got to the dock, the line was long, and we were all getting more tired. One boat arrived and took as many people as it could. The next boat arrived, and the line got to right in front of us before the boat was full. Here’s where our adventure with both extremes of customer service began…

Let me set up the scenario: most of these boat captains are older gentlemen. A few of them are gruff and some are curmudgeonly, but in general, they’re all nice people. Except for this guy. When I got to the front of the line, he asked how many were in my party. I told him there were seven of us, and his curt reply was, “well, you’ll just have to take the next boat.” I simply raised my eyebrows and didn’t frown or sigh or complain in any way, but he defensively and angrily shot a remark at me that more boats were coming and that there was no way they could foresee the problems on the monorail. I was floored, and I heard several people behind my family say, “what a jerk!” One person said, “I’m glad we’re not getting on his boat.”

The next boat arrived soon, much to our relief. When the captain tied up the boat and walked up to us on the dock, he lightheartedly declared, “we’re finally here to rescue you!” Laughter and a few cheers went up from the folks in line. In a friendly and pleasant tone, he asked us to make sure that all the children sat in adults’ laps in order to fit as many people on the boat as possible.  People didn’t seem to mind crowding up and being just a little uncomfortable, simply because the captain treated us like the guests that we were…and, of course, because we were finally getting off that boat dock!

The whole story goes to show how much of a difference our attitude makes in the way we treat people, particularly customers. The attitude of the two boat captains marked the contrast in being treated like a nuisance and being treated like an honored, welcomed guest. Disney usually does a bang-up job at treating their guests right, going out of the way in so many ways to accommodate visitors and customers. But clearly, there are occasional exceptions in even the best organizations’ customer service.

I want to strive to be like the second captain and make a positive difference in the lives of the people with whom I come in contact. I’m sure I fall short…a lot…but I sincerely hope my balance sheet shows in favor of treating people right.