A Simple Way That Disney and Hallmark Delight Customers

Sometimes we find inspiration when we’re not even looking for it.

This morning, I stopped at my local Hallmark store to pick up some things to welcome a friend and colleague to our office. Unfortunately, I arrived in the parking lot around 9:15 am, but the app on my phone indicated the store wouldn’t open until 9:30 am.

I walked up to the door anyway, figuring I could at least be the first one in the door when they opened in 15 minutes. But to my surprise, the door was open. The lights were on and an employee greeted me.

Just to be sure I wasn’t walking in prematurely and disrupting a morning team meeting, I asked, “Are you open?” She smiled and said, “Yes sir, good morning! We open as soon as we’re ready.”

They opened early. What a great way to delight customers!

This reminded me of a time very early in my career when I worked at the Emporium gift shop at the Magic Kingdom. If you don’t know, the Emporium is a large gift shop filled with all kinds of Disney memorabilia. It’s the last shop on the right as you’re making your way out of the park and toward the exit and it’s always busy, especially when the park is open until 11 pm or midnight. I remember working one evening and overhearing a guest ask one of my colleagues a question. It was midnight and the guest was deciding which Mickey shirt to purchase when she suddenly realized how late it was. She asked, “What time do you close?” My colleague replied, “As a matter of fact, ma’am, we close when the last guest leaves.”


It makes sense, right? Why not stay open later when you’re a huge for-profit company like Disney who can afford to pay their employees overtime to make some extra sales.

Unfortunately, I’ve found the opposite to be true at some of my local malls here in Orlando.

Most close at 9 pm but if you happen to be shopping around 8:45 pm you’ll spot several retailers bringing their gates down either early or half-way. Not very welcoming.

What message do you think this sends to their customers? It’s a form of nonverbal communication that tells shoppers to go away.

In healthcare, there are lots of little ways we can delight patients, visitors, and employees. Opening early or staying late may not be practical for a number of reasons, particularly in a hospital or emergency environment that is always open. But what about the gift shop or the cafeteria? Might they be able to open early or stay open late?

Creating great experiences doesn’t require lots of money or huge effort. Instead, focus on the little things, the little wows, the little ways you can exceed your customers’ or patients’ expectations. When you add them all up, these little moments that delight your customers and patients are what define a world-class experience.