Why Great Customer Experience Should Be About Stewardship

“Stewardship — it’s why we fight.”

Disneyland

Why is it that this place means so much to so many? Because it’s how people choose to escape, recharge, and to live fully.

I know this is true because of the following story I’ve told to teams, after which they’ve always treated everyone they came into contact, with deep reverence for spending their precious time with us…

I was standing in Tomorrowland going over some logistical items with my Leader and an Imagineer. This was actually the first day I was a salaried Leader so I was feeling very important and pleased with myself. We were talking very high level things in a very important manner when I felt a tug on the back of my shirt. I turned around to discover a little 5 year old boy with a little knit cap on and he was beckoning me to bend down to speak with him. Wait — didn’t he know I was doing important things?

I knelt down and he said he wanted to pin trade with me (I was wearing a pin lanyard loaded with super cool pins) so of course he wanted to trade. I gave him one of mine and he gave me one of his. It was a little Finding Nemo pin, the one where Nemo has the little lucky fin. I thanked him for trading with me, patted him on the shoulder and turned back around to continue our very important logistical discussion. We were deep in it when I felt the familiar tug at my shirt again so I turned around.

The little 5 year old with the knit cap was motioning me with one finger to bend down so he could speak to me. When I bent down he leaned in and asked in a whisper “do you know why I pin traded with you?”

I said “no”

He said “so you’ll remember me.”

Well this was a pretty remarkable thing for a 5 year old to say and it knocked the wind out of me. I looked across the way and noticed his whole family lined up watching us. I took his hand and walked over to speak with them.

It turns out that the young 5 year old boy had terminal cancer, and he was on a mission.

For his last day ever in Disneyland, he was making his way through the park and trading little Finding Nemo pins with any Cast Member he could, saying “this is so you’ll remember me.” Suddenly our high level discussion was of no importance at all. This amazing young man was leaving a legacy, and I will never forget it.

When serving, you never know who’s in front of you. Lead and communicate with empathy, and you will always be aligned with the needs of those you serve, who are looking to you for the stewardship of their experiences.