One of the fundamental things Disneyland introduced early on was that customers be referred to as Guests, and not as customers. This tradition has carried to the present day. Even in internal writings, the word Guest is not only used in place of the customer, but it is capitalized.
Why call the customer a Guest? Think about it. When you have a guest come into your home, there are certain things you do. You dress up. You pick up the house before they arrive. The stuff you don’t want others to see gets put into that one closet. You find out what meals they enjoy, and create a special event. You ask your kids to behave a certain way. You put on your best manners.
That’s a different set of behaviors than you exhibit when someone anonymously just shows up at your door. Thinking of someone as a Guest rather than a customer causes you to think and act differently. To that end, while employees are all referred to as Cast Members–since they are part of a show–those especially serving on the front line are referred to as hosts and hostesses. To that end, Disney seems themselves as hosting millions of Guests in their parks each year.
It’s a simple thing–refer to your customers as Guests. It’s certainly low cost. So consider the following as it relates to your own business or organization:
- How would we think about customers differently if we referred to them as Guests?
- What behaviors in our organization would be different if we truly thought of them as Guests?
- How would we set ourselves apart from the competition by treating our customers as Guests?