The Right Thing – A Lesson in Customer Service


A situation occurred last weekend that is worth sharing. It offered two very important lessons worth pointing out.

  1. Customer Service is worth almost every penny you pay or invest
  2. Always look for the teachable moment


My son and I were spending the day together at DisneyQuest, here in Orlando. What DisneyQuest is isn’t important to the story. What is important is that I am talking about an event that took place on Disney property.

My son, eight years old, had a lanyard and a series of trading pins he had since about 2007. He wanted to take them for his first time at DisneyQuest to see if he could trade them. He successfully traded different pins all day. We had been riding this Buzz Lightyear bumpercar thing a few times and each time, for some unknown reason, he would take off the lanyard and put it in the storage area. Around 8:30 PM or so, he says to me that he doesn’t have his lanyard. We went to check the bumper car attraction and they searched all the cars and could not find it. They suggested I go to Guest Relations to see if anyone turned it in.

Not expecting much, I warned him that unfortunately his lanyard was probably gone and we were now hoping that someone was honest and turned it in. He understood that I was not about to buy him a new one and he was a little upset…but he was onboard and understood.

We talked to a young woman in Guest Relations and she sympathized with him. She told us to go enjoy the rest of our evening and to come back and see her around 10:00. So, we did. When we came back, she said she wandered the building and asked everyone she could find about his lanyard and pins. She got no positive response.

When we came back at 10:00, she offered a $25.00 gift card. She also made the effort to get me into the closing gift shop so we could handle the problem then and there. Once we got a new lanyard and starter trading pin set, she allowed my son to trade her one pin for two of his choice.

Disney certainly did not have to do anything, but they did the RIGHT thing! If you work for Disney, or have worked for them in the past, this story should make you proud.


This is why Disney is more worthy of a company for my entertainment dollars than most other companies. I don’t believe this would have occurred at Universal Studios or Sea World – but that is just opinion. How much did this act of goodness cost Disney? $25.00! They took a kid’s trip from being “the trip he lost his trading pins” to a great first trip to DisneyQuest. You know that no matter how great his day was, this one event was going to take over the entire memory. This woman at Guest Relations knew that also. Now, here I am writing a blog about it. Also, I talked about it with people at my company, and my son talked to people about it. When he is 30 and has a family of his own, he will remember this single act of kindness and that Disney treated him right when he was a kid. Point being, as a customer, he is probably worth at least $50,000 to them over the course of his lifetime. They solidified their name, as a brand, with him for all of $25.00 and a little kindness. This is why they can raise their theme park ticket prices every year and people still pay – customer service.

I believe they have an internal policy that allows every employee to actually do the right thing for a guest issue without approval, as long as the solution is under $100. I suspect it is part of the Making Memories initiatives they have implemented over the last few years. The point is that this wasn’t just a random act of kindness that you can blow off as a lucky evening. This happens over and over and over when dealing with this company because the employees are trained and empowered to act in this manner. It is intentional.

An interesting thing about their customer service. It is so good that it spills over into the Orlando community – I expect it happens in thier other locations also. The population of Orlando has had so many people come in and out of this company and go to work at other local companies that you see the effect of the customer service in these other local companies. When you get out of Orlando, you realize how much affect this company has on the culture of the city. There is a marked drop in the level of customer service you see in other cities.


As a parent and a designer of learning content, you know I identified the moment as an opportunity to share the reality of what was occurring to my son. Disney offered me an opportunity to share a little about how business and marketing work, along with how important doing the right thing is.

I shared with him that sometimes, even when it is hard or uncomfortable, the value of doing the right thing is immeasurable and that offers returns that you can’t pay enough money and creates an unbreakable trust over time.

I asked him about what the right thing to do if you borrowed something from a friend and it broke while you had it. He said “tell them you broke it and ask if they would like you to replace it”. That’s when I knew I had the teachable moment! The correct answer is to just replace it (even if the cost is higher than you want to pay) and tell them after the fact – so they don’t have to worry about getting it replaced. Your friend probably doesn’t want to spend the money either…and they should not have to because they were kind enough to loan you something. You just made the replacement happen, so they don’t have to think about it. Now, they have trust in you and are more likely to share with you.

Thanks for the teachable moment, Disney!


It means essentially the same thing – do the right thing and go the extra mile when possible. If you find a teachable moment, take it and use it.

You will have issues with course schedules, registrations, development schedules, technical issues from your learners, and the list goes on and on. Many times the easy answer is to just deal with the issue or pawn it off and blame software, other people, or something else out of your control. When you get into these situations, take a step backwards, rethink what you are doing, and DO THE RIGHT THING. Your learners are people to. This doesn’t matter if you serve internal or external customers. You represent your organization and you represent your own, individual brand. Your customers will eventually talk about you and your brand will blossom. It takes time and a consistency that people can count on. Eventually, your work will be known in your circle as the best.

Keep in mind, every person you interact with is a customer – from IT to Sales to Support to your learners. Everyone wants to be treated right.

As part of performing world class customer service, you will come across situations where you can solve a problem or work a teachable moment. If it was me…I would do what I could to take the teachable moment, even if it requires more work. It will be positive down the road.

You can expand this into your course design, also. What does your learner expect? What does your SME expect? What about your manager or sponsor of the course? Always attempt to raise the bar whenever possible. Give something a little extra – comedy, quality scenarios, unique art, music, or theme of some sort. Whatever it is, learners like to see a course that went a little further than what was expected. They like surprises and they like to laugh or have an emotional effect from your content. That’s doing the right thing.

Do you have any experiences where you did the right thing for a customer, when there was an easy out that you chose not to take? What about when someone did right by you, even when they did not.

What opportunities do you have where you can go over and above what is expected?


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