We took this picture when I was with The Disney Institute a number of years ago. Everything in the box actually belongs to my family, including the picture of my grandmother Checketts as a small child, and a quilt made by my grandmother Kober.
We took the picture as part of a Disney Institute program entitled Disney’s Approach to Quality Service for Healthcare Professionals. The story is told that a woman came to collect the belongings of her mother who had passed away and who had been in a rest home for a number of years. The woman had come to build relationships and get to know the staff at the rest home. In her mind, they had become like family. But when she went to retrieve the belongings, she found them waiting for her thrown in a cardboard box. The attention to handling those belongings was jarring to the woman, and she commented to the staff member on duty how upsetting it was to her to see those belongings carelessly thrown into a cardboard box.
The staff learned a huge lesson and subsequently created a different process for handling the belongings of the deceased in a way that it would be almost more of a gift when the family members came to pick them up. It’s a little way of showing how you care not just for the patient, but for all of your customers.
However, here’s the twist. Where did this bad habit originate? Truth be told, employees treat customers the same way we treat them. And how do we usually handle an employee when his employment has been terminated?
With a cardboard box.