John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

What time is the 3 o’clock parade?

What time is the 3 o’clock parade? – If you have ever taken any Disney course, then you are probably familiar with one of the most frequently asked questions of their cast members: “What time is the 3 o’clock parade?” At first it was a challenge for their cast members not to laugh or respond in a way that would make the visitor feel stupid by saying something like, ” Ah, maybe 3 o’clock?” Disney had to train its employees on the fact that it wasn’t a silly question. If you think about it, what are they really asking? They want to know what time the parade is in the part of the park where they are standing. Where’s the best place to stand? And what time do I need to get there to be able to get a good spot to see it?


How long is a one-hour massage? – Every business gets asked, what might appear on the surface, silly questions. At John Robert’s Spa, a question that we have often been asked is, “How long is an hour massage?” Like Disney we didn’t want our guest-care personnel to respond with, “Ah, 60 minutes!” We had to teach them what our guest was really asking. They wanted to know how long it would take and could they squeeze it in between work and their daughter’s recital that evening. And our one-hour massage is really 90 minutes, in their time, because we want them to be their 15 minutes early to get changed into a robe and get a foot soak. Then typically guests want to shower afterward to remove the oil from their body and out of their hair. So it is a minimum of 90 minutes.


How long is Net 10? – I was working with a client’s credit department and we were trying to find what might be their 3 o’clock parade questions. What questions do they get that their employees could find silly. They came up with a great one. They said that they get asked all the time how long is Net 10. Obviously Net 10 refers to the payment term of 10 days, but 10 days from what? Ten days from the date the order was placed, the date it was shipped, or the date it was received? Another great question.


Action Plan – Figure out the silly questions your company may get, and help your team members better understand what your customer is really asking. They may not be as silly as they appear, and you certainly do not want your company offending any of your customers.


No more HOLD – There is an app that has found a way around lengthy telephone hold times entirely.With Fast Customer, a free mobile and web app, users can bypass hold times with more than 3,000 companies including Verizon, Aetna and Bloomingdale’s. Users simply log into Fast Customer’s Web site or app, type in their phone number and press submit, at which point Fast Customer takes over and routes a call to the third party’s customer-service line. When a customer-service rep becomes available, the user’s phone rings. Most callbacks happen within 15 minutes.


Bad Customer Service? Blame the boss – Many times when customers are frustrated, it isn’t because of a front-line employee’s neglect or incompetence, but rather the policies put into place by their bosses. They are trained to follow and enforce these policies that undermine the relationship between the customer and the associate. I use to hate the word “NO” and have forbidden the use in my companies; however, I have recently added another word to that list, “policy.” I cannot stand companies that hide behind policy by stating, “It is not our policy.” Change your term policy to guidelines so your employees understand that you have guidelines, but can be fearless to make exceptions when the circumstances call for it. The most classic example of this is Spirit Airlines, one that I shared a few months ago, but it’s worth repeating. Spirit is the most complained about airline in the industry. Spirit reached a new low a few weeks ago when a 76-year-old Vietnam veteran and former Marine tried to get his $197 back after learning his esophageal cancer was terminal and he was restricted from flying by his doctor. Spirit refused to refund the money. It is worth watching this story on Fox. 


The best and worst in customer satisfaction – The American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI)released their report ranking companies in the hotel, restaurant, and airline industries based on customer satisfaction. Companies like Hilton, Marriott, InterContinental, Outback, JetBlue, and Southwest ranked tops in their industry, while McDonald’s, Burger King, and United ranked on the low end. See how they ranked on the ACSI Report.






John R. DiJulius III best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the President of The DiJulius Group, the leading customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on customer experience trends and best practices. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.

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