Engaged Employees Really Do Drive Exceptional Customer Experiences!

Posted by Rick DeMarco on 12 January 2016

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When we travel, there are a number of opportunities for employees from different product and service providers to either increase or decrease the quality of our experience. Rarely do all of the planets align to end up with a trip in which every company involved compounds to the overall enjoyable experience. I recently returned from a family vacation and it turned out to be a case study for the experience enjoyed when EVERYONE involved goes above and beyond to make that trip memorable.

We took our children and grandchildren to Disney World, known to all as the “Happiest Place on Earth”. Now I have been to Disney World a number of times in my life and have to admit that the memory was not always one of visiting “The Happiest Place on Earth”. But this time was different. What made it different? Disney World hasn’t significantly changed its product/service offering, so past experiences that did not meet expectations were certainly not driven by the product and services offered by the park. The difference was all about employees making that extra effort to make our experience exceptional. It started with shopping for the trip and ended with the flight home and retrieval of our vehicle from long-term parking. 


The night before the trip, I went to the local Walmart to pick up a few last minute items. When I reached the self check-out register, a feeling of terror overtook me as I realized that I had lost my credit card somewhere in the store. The woman manning the self-check area had the alertness to notice that I was frantically searching through my pockets and took the initiative to approach me and ask if I had lost something. After explaining my situation, she disappeared to the customer service counter and returned 5 minutes later with my credit card. She said that one of the associates found it on the floor and was honest enough to bring it to the customer service counter. The initiative and efforts of two employees made the difference between starting a trip worrying about unauthorized charges to my account and avoiding that major inconvenience. Thank you Walmart!

Enterprise Car Rental

Since we had 7 people in our party, I rented a minivan and was concerned that I would show up at the counter and one would not be available. Upon checking in, the Enterprise rep walked me to the lot and showed me 4-5 different vehicles that would meet our needs and told me to just pick the one I wanted, making sure to explain to me both passenger and cargo capacities of each. That effort in itself was impressive, but I was even more impressed when I chose one that required an additional fee and she simply waived the additional amount and let me have it for the same price. Thank you Enterprise!

Sheraton Vistana Resort

With a large party and three young children, we had booked a two-bedroom, two-bath villa at this resort. Upon check-in, every employee in the lobby went out of their way to make us welcome and to ensure that all of the needs related to the children were met, including delivering a crib to the room.  Anytime I had an interaction with any of the resort staff, whether it was the cleaning crew, front desk, restaurants, pool staff, etc., it was clear that these employees were committed to making our stay memorable and enjoyable. Thank you Sheraton Vistana Resort!

Disney World Resort

Of course, Disney is legendary for training all employees to provide exceptional customer experiences.  But this time, one particular employee exceeded my already high expectations. Disney offers a photo pass for $200 that provides customers the opportunity to take advantage of Disney photographers, have the entire group in photos, and have all of the photos downloaded digitally so the customer can save them on their computer and do whatever they want with them. With other costs, I decided that I didn’t want to spend the $200, but noticed that you could buy a one-day photo pass. Since my daughter had planned a dress-up experience for our grandchildren, I went to the appropriate desk to buy a one-day pass for just that day. I was told that one-day passes were not available unless you had only a one-day ticket. I made a simple statement that this policy was not clear on the website and the associate, with no pressure, told me to sit tight while she checked my account.  A few minutes later, she apologized for the inconvenience and comped the $200 photo pass for our entire stay. Thank you Disney World!

United Airlines

I had booked our flights 9 months prior to the trip and since my daughter's family, and my wife and I were flying from different locations, we had to work hard to coordinate flights so arrival and departure times were close. Sometime during those 9 months, United changed our departure flight time significantly, presenting a little inconvenience and challenge to our plans. So after checking our daughter and family into their flight, we went to the United desk to see if we could go on an earlier flight, as opposed to waiting at the airport for 5 more hours. I had actually tried to just check into our regular flight, but found out I couldn’t check my luggage because the flight was too far off. We really didn’t want to lug a large suitcase around the airport so I approached another agent and simply said that United wasn’t making me very happy with the schedule change, inability to check the bag, and changing the seats I had reserved so my wife and I were separated. Without hesitation, the agent went to the desk, called us over, and presented us with upgraded seats on the earlier flight, with no charge. Thank you United!

Loews Parking near O’Hare

We had parked our car at Loews hotel near O’Hare because it was covered parking, clean, secure, and very reasonably priced. After returning from a long trip, the last thing a traveler wants to deal with is a long wait for a shuttle and a hassle picking up their vehicle. The Loews shuttle picked us up within 5 minutes of our arrival in an unusually comfortable and clean shuttle and we were on the road within ½ hour of getting our luggage. Thank you Loews!

Walmart had everything we needed for our trip, Enterprise had the car that we had reserved, the room at the resort was everything we had expected in terms of layout and amenities, Disney World as usual created plenty of memories with rides, attractions, restaurants, and character visits, the flight home was on time and uneventful, and our car was safe and secure and ready for retrieval when we got home. But what truly made this trip an exceptional experience was the discretionary effort delivered by the outstanding employees of the companies involved in our trip. Engaged and passionate employees truly do drive exceptional customer experiences and this is one trip that I will remember for a long time because of their commitment.