Blog of Tips, Tricks & Resources from New Horizons Central

Becoming Mickey Mouse

Becoming Mickey Mouse

Achieve extraordinary customer service and leverage your capabilities.



Hello and welcome to the world of customer service.  My name is Jim Lifter, a business skills and applications facilitator from New Horizons Learning Centers of Columbus, Ohio.  I have been with New Horizons for nearly four years but have been a facilitator for over 20.  I have come to the realization that for most businesses, customer service is the difference between success and failure in the marketplace.  With that in mind, I have put together some thoughts that will help you achieve extraordinary customer service and leverage your capabilities.

This place is a “mickey mouse” operation!  That phrase is one that we have all heard and probably more than a few of us have uttered.  According to internet research, a “Mickey Mouse Operation” is a derogatory colloquial term for an organization or a group of people who don't know what they are doing or have no set goals or ideals.

What does this have to do with New Horizons you might ask?  How does this affect me and the way I do business?  Both of these are good questions and good questions deserve good answers.  But first, a quick story (or at least a short recap of a recent vacation to visit the aforementioned mouse) that I think will dissuade people from using this terminology in anything other than an endearing way.

On a recent trip to Florida, I took time to visit Disneyworld and see just what a “Mickey Mouse” operation was all about.  These people know a thing or two about marketing and running a business.  I am not your typical Disney visitor, or at least I don’t think of myself in that way.  I was, at the time, a forty-something, divorced man, not big on roller coasters and the like, who went to Disney sans children.  Not what one would typically expect to find enjoying a day or two at the various Disney-owned parks.

My experience with the magic that is Disney began well before I stepped foot into the Magic Kingdom.  Several months before the trip, I called to make a reservation for a character dinner; a dinner at one of the Disney properties that includes table visits by various costumed characters.  The operator (or cast member as they are called) was perhaps the most pleasant person I have spoken with in quite a while. She was warm and friendly, and just from the tone of her voice I could tell she was smiling and enjoying her job.  

She started the conversation by asking me, “What age is the child that will be attending the dinner?”  When I responded “46”, she chuckled and proceeded to tell me about the various options for their character meals.  She suggested a dinner instead of a breakfast, because she didn’t think an adult would be happy with a 6 a.m. encounter with a very large and boisterous mouse.  She was absolutely right.  Dinner was scheduled with the classic Disney characters (and I use the term classic only because using the term “old” would be less than politically correct) and I was sent away with a feeling that I was truly cared about by the cast member.

Not two days later, I received a nice note from the cast member with a quick reminder of my upcoming reservation and some information on the Disney experience.  A follow-up note that was totally unexpected, but truly appreciated.  Customer service at its best.

Based on this experience, I would have to say that a Mickey Mouse company is one to be admired and duplicated rather than thought of in a negative light.  What can we do to turn our own businesses into Mickey Mouse operations?  Well, the answer is simple, provide the type of service that knocks your clients for a loop and makes them write articles about you.  Well, perhaps not that, but at the least they should be speaking of you to their friends, families, and co-workers.

Here are five things that you can do to provide the type of service that makes you stand out in a crowd:

  1. Call a customer and offer to take them to lunch for no reason other than you want to see them.  This is not a sales lunch, it is a social lunch.
  2. Send your customer a “thank you for being a customer” note.  No reason other than it is a nice thing to do.
  3. Offer your clients rides to/from the airport.  Most will not take you up on the offer, but merely making it is enough to set you apart from the crowd.
  4. Think of your customers as your family but treat them better than that.  
  5. Greet each customer with a smile, whether you are on the phone or face to face.

Service is the key to keeping customers and getting them to become your source for the all-important referrals and introductions that will grow your business.  New Horizons offers several classes that will help you find your inner Mickey Mouse.  Reach out to our staff at New Horizons Columbus for info on our Customer Service and other business skills classes to make you a star.

Jim Lifter

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