Sunday, September 11, 2016

Be Our Guest

If you have read any of these posts, you know the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend has become a family tradition, beginning the year after we lost Office T and the year I lost my dad.  That first year was a blast.  Daughter and my Aunt Pebs joined me.  The crowds were there, but manageable.  The race was wonderful.  There were Disney characters at least every half mile, and I stopped for photos with all of them.  The lines for photos were longish, but not too long.  Then, the next year, Disney introduced the Glass Slipper Challenge (for those of you who don't know, that's a 10k on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday).  Registration exploded.  For the next four years, the crowds at the parks became progressively worse.  That's not all, however.  Every year, I've noticed fewer character stops.  Places where there were photo opportunities with the characters suddenly had none.  The goodies in the finish line goody bag also changed; it has really become not worth getting, and yet the number of sponsors for the race has grown.  What we have gotten more of is...water stops because the race is attracting people who don't know how to race.  But I digress.
This summer, without any announcement, Disney decided to stop allowing deferrals.  For those of you who don't race, a deferral is telling Disney that you are unable to run this year, but you'd like to run next year, so they guarantee your registration the next year - for a hefty fee, of course.  Every major race, even the Boston Marathon, allows deferrals.  Many even permit you to transfer your jersey.  Disney used to allow deferrals, until suddenly they didn't.  Now, if you break a leg, you forfeit your registration fee.  Just so we all understand what that means, it means that a race for which you had to sign up 9 months in advance and pay several hundred dollars (far more money than for any other race I run), tells you "tough tookies" if the unforeseeable happens, even if it happens 6 months before the race.  
Why am I telling you this?  The name "Disney" carries with it a certain set of expectations.  The biggest expectation is that its customers are treated as guests, not consumers.  For most, that means things are done first class, because that's how you treat a welcome guest. A Disney event has lots of Disney characters, because that's what their guests want.  A host does not tell a welcome guest that they don't care that they are sick or injured.  That's not the expectation.  The expectation is that the host puts themselves in the shoes of their guest and tries to see what the guest sees and anticipate what the guest wants.  Disney has forgotten that the people who come to their parks are guests.  They are focused solely on the bottom line.
Even though law offices are not Disney, we could take a lesson here.  So many times, a law office sets a client expectation at odds with reality.  The client meets with the named partner during the first interview, and then never sees them again.  The partner makes them feel safe and comfortable, but the person handling their case is someone else, and the client wasn't told that was going to happen.  The client is told that the lawyer will be there for them when they need them, but the lawyer never returns their call.  The lawyer talks about a retainer, but doesn't mention that retainer may not cover all of the legal fees.  The lawyer charges hundreds of dollars an hour, and also charges for every stamp, and $0.10 a page for copies.  The lawyer never sends to the client copies of pleadings and letters sent and received for the client.  The lawyer sends notices of hearings without any explanation.  Ditto for attending mediation.  I know these things all take time or otherwise affect the bottom line, but happy clients send us more of the same.  Did I mention registration is falling off for the Disney races this year?  Here in the Trenches.