Starting this weekend, any guest who lodges a complaint with Guest Relations will receive a free ice cream cone. Previously, guests who complained walked away with nothing more than free FastPasses or in some cases, free admission to a Disney Park.
“We listened to our guests who complained frequently and they informed us that they were tired of the free FastPasses and park tickets,” Brian Baylor, Vice President of Disney’s Feedback Freebies division. “It didn’t take us long to realize that the freebies we were handing out weren’t solving the problem anymore. The idea of free ice cream was born out of our guests’ frustrations with their free stuff.”
Cast Members who work in Guest Relations see more than their share of complaints on a daily basis. From lack of dining options, to a ride that is too scary, to being offended by Rafiki’s costume; Guest Relations have heard it all.
“I’m handing out freebies left and right on some days,” Shannon Kemp, Shift Leader at Magic Kingdom’s Guest Relations. “Sometimes you can tell by just looking at someone that they’re going to be a total bitch. In those cases, I give them free Fast Passes to Space Mountain before they even open their mouth.”
Kemp mentioned that she started to notice that guests were still sticking around to complain long after their freebie was handed out. She knew something had to be done.
“I was just getting off break one day and I had an ice cream cone in my hand,” Kemp continued. “I noticed one guest was being especially belligerent to one of my co-workers. I hadn’t eaten any of my ice cream cone yet so I decided to try something. I offered it the guest.”
Kemp said she was shocked that it actually worked. She tried it on the next guest who complained, and the next, and the next. Her success rate was near 100%. That’s when she brought her idea to Brian Baylor.
“We all thought it was genius,” Baylor said of Kemp’s idea. “We were skeptical at first but [Kemp] had the proof that giving out free ice cream actually works. It’s an extra added bonus that each cone we give out costs us only 12 cents.”
Disney soon fast-tracked the idea and began testing the concept at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. They saw guest satisfaction from guest complaints rise dramatically.
We decided to wait outside Guest Relations at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where the new system is already in place. It didn’t take long to see a family come out with ice cream cones in hand. We cornered them to ask a few questions.
“They’re delicious,” said Thomas Jefferson Geronimo III of the ice cream cones. “I came in here to complain that my two-year-old got scared on Tower of Terror. They handed me an ice cream cone and all of the sudden, my worries and poor parenting choices just melted away.”
Geronimo went on to tell me that he’s probably going to complain about the lack of flavors next. We then shared a good laugh before a reporter named Johnny Chainsaw from TyphoidLagoon.com punched him in his face.
Did you complain about something recently? Let us know what flavor you got!