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Disney World can be a magical place, as I discovered on a recent family trip. It's a vacation we have been considering for quite a while but didn't go on until we realized just how much the kids would be able to enjoy it. With such a big place, we had so much to think about and take in. But one thing in particular got me thinking after hearing Kevin Brown speak during the Decatur Community Leaders Breakfast in October and that's customer service. After hearing Brown talk, I was wondering if the customer service at Disney would live up to the expectations of a place that's supposed to be the happiest place on earth. Brown said he's in the people business and was at the mecca of service.

“These people know how to extract money from people and know how to make them feel good about it,” said Brown, the assistant vice president of marketing for Servpro, an international franchise system with nearly 1,700 locations specializing in fire and water cleanup and restoration.

Brown spoke about how his son, Josh, got hooked on going to Disney when he was 7 years old. He said Josh's eyes were as big as saucers as they drove through the gates, something I can definitely relate to with a young child.

“I was so excited,” Brown said. “I knew how much this trip would mean to my little boy.”

At breakfast, Brown was disappointed to receive a waitress with a poor attitude. Somebody forgot to tell her she worked at the happiest place on earth, Brown said. He held his temper in check, though. Brown's son was on a special diet, so they needed to make a request of the chef, who had come out to take his order. Josh asked for apple pancakes, which the restaurant didn't have the ingredients to make. The chef wrote down his request word for word anyway.

Nobody notices normal service, Brown said. He had come to accept that the level of service they would receive would be like that from the unhappy waitress. However, his outlook changed when they went back for breakfast the next day. His son once again asked for apple pancakes and this time his request was granted.

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“I was stunned,” Brown said.

The chef had listened, exceeding expectations and gone to the store to get the proper ingredients. She simply could have been mad her boss didn't give her the tools to provides customers with what they wanted. Instead, not knowing the Brown family would return the next 8 days to eat as they did, she went out and took a chance that she could make somebody happy recognizing one boy had asked for them.

Disney, as all of us who have been there knows, tends to cost a small fortune. But when someone goes out of their way to make your experience excellent, that can make such a big difference.

“What a joy to pay that price,” Brown said. “She made it priceless for us. To this day at age 17, I have never seen that child smile the way he did when those pancakes showed up.”

I suppose that's why, as parents, we're willing to put our children in situations where they can have those types of memorable experiences. It might not be receiving apple pancakes, but it could be other experiences such as seeing Mickey Mouse and pals on stage, buying a snowman who likes summer, giving Daisy Duck a hug or riding the Dumbo ride again and again. Never mind they be more interested in eating lunch than the princesses mingling around them. You just never know unless you take that chance to go on such adventures. Sometimes the memory can be something you never would have anticipated. I can only imagine what it would have been like for Brown to have the best memory be something so simple yet unexpected. It could make the difference between wanting to go back again or being satisified with a one time trip.

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​clusvardi@herald-review.com|(217) 421-7972

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