Continuous improvement in customer service is an important part of perfecting an organization. This was played out with employees at the Rose & Crown. Cast Members were introduced to a continuous improvement cycle and as a team discussed what implications there were in this type of process. In empowering cast members to identify opportunities to improve service, they began to notice that people were asking if there was a place they could just order fish and chips over the counter. It’s offered on the menu at this restaurant, but there was no place for those who wanted the food ‘to-go.’
Cast members began to tally the number of times such responses were being heard. The end result was that there was a demand for fish and chips. One’s initial response might be to simply petition management for a counter service restaurant to address the solution. But rather than creating a new food outlet, they began testing the interest in fish and chips by offering it to go at the pub. A space was made at the corner of the bar, and those who expressed interest in fish & chips to go were sent in to order it to go. They then measured the results of that effort.
The interest over the months to follow was so positive, that they tested it further by opening a temporary set up outside of the restaurant. Of course, Disney doesn’t do “lemonade stands” on the fly, but they did have a number of resources they could pull together to create a nice, though temporary, facility. The location was fairly ideal since it allowed them to run food out of the back door of the kitchen.
The success of the kiosk was measured over time. In fact, it ran long enough so that they could test whether interest was just a fad, or whether there was long term interest. They also measured its effect on other food and beverage facilities found in adjoining properties.
The end result of this continuous improvement effort was successful, and as a result you now see a formal counter service location here known as Yorkshire County Fish Shop. During most times of the day, you’ll usually find someone lined up to sample these British morsels.
This is a sample of what is replicated not only at Epcot, but all over Walt Disney World. Employee engagement works best when Disney promotes the idea to its Cast Members of taking the initiative to finding new ways to make not only the guest experience better, but in finding more efficient ways to run its operation and to work more cohesively as a team of Cast Members.
In your efforts to improve your organization, you need to identify a system for tracking and monitoring your progress on an ongoing basis. Such a process involves steps such as the following:
- Measure—Continuous improvement requires tracking your results quantitatively and qualitatively. That may involve computer reports and programs, but it might also be as simple as using a clicker or simply observing. Remember to post your results so all employees can see.
- Act—Compile and analyze the measurement results? What impact do you see? Invite employees to brainstorm ideas. Build consensus on the best possible solution. Take action on devising some solution. In partnership with management and other affected areas, pilot those ideas in an effort to achieve continuous improvement.
- Re-Measure—Test to see if the ideas piloted create the desired solution. Again, remember to post your results so that all can see. If it didn’t work out right, brainstorm other possibilities and take a different action.
- Implement—When you get the idea right, make it happen on a consistent basis. Iron out any challenges you may have. Keep the continuous improvement process going.
- Share/Celebrate–Recognize everyone’s efforts in accomplishing the goal, then share with others. At Epcot, there was an internal newsletter known as The Tinker Bell Times that provides guest satisfaction and cast satisfaction measurement to the Cast. One of the great activities that occurs at Disney is that Cast Members get together on an annual basis to share their learnings and to gain insights from others.
The result? A workforce that is more engaged, more involved, and more active in wanting to create excellence throughout the entire organization. And…one that creates winning results.
- What continuous improvement processes do we have in our organization?
- What opportunities exist for improving our organization?
- How do you push organizational improvement to the front line?
- How would employees be more engaged with this kind of process?
Do you like these kinds of stories? Do experiences at Disney help you to re-think how you can adapt these same kinds of ideas to your own organization? Take a look at Lessons From Epcot: In Leadership, Business & Life. This beautiful story and photo-filled book is available on iTunes for those with an iPad or iPhone.