When Chevrolet was first looking to improve customer service at its nationwide network of dealerships, they turned to a rather unexpected organization for help. Disney runs a special customer service oriented workshop through its Disney Institute, and Chevy has been sending its employees there since 2011.
TIME magazine says the workshop is part of General Motors’ post-bankruptcy strategy to make car buying a more enjoyable experience. The Disney Institute has coached employees from many different industries on customer service, like Haagen Dazs and United Airlines, for example, and instills the same wisdom in all of its pupils: to behave like theatre actors.
Disney tells sales reps to behave like they are on stage, acting as if they are a “gracious host,” TIME says. This allows them to better connect with the customer and focus on pleasing them. The course is also intended to instill some consistency across all Chevrolet dealerships. The automaker wants its stores to feel the same no matter which one you walk into, like a McDonalds or Starbucks, for example.
GM executive vice president Alan Batey recognizes buying a car or visiting a dealership is an unpleasant experience for some buyers, as it can sometimes be stressful. With the internet, consumers are more educated on products, and a dealer’s job is less about selling and more about simple customer service, which is where the Disney workshop comes in.
Dealership managers paid either $2500 or $2700 to send each of their employees to the workshop, plus additional costs for airfare and accommodations. To date, more than 4800 employees have attended the separate training seminars in Orlando and Anaheim. Most of Chevy’s dealers have already attended the workshop, but one dealer pointed out it’s hard to tell if it made a difference, as the auto industry’s resurgence coincided with the training.