Louie Gravance Spills the Secrets of “Wow” Service

Gladly Team

Read Time

4 minute read

What do Snow White and customer service agents have in common? Hint: it’s not an ability to make animals magically clean up after them.

According to Louie Gravance, who’s known for developing the “Disney Customer Service” mentality, the connection between the two is their power to brighten a customer’s day.

Gravance shared this comparison during an inspiring keynote at Gladly Connect Live 2024 in April. A renowned speaker and former executive at Disney who pioneered the theme park’s award-winning customer support, Gravance whittles his work down to a series of secrets to providing “wow” service.

While we won’t spill those secrets verbatim — for that, you’ll need to watch Gravance’s keynote in full — we will share a few takeaways CX leaders can sprinkle into their support centers immediately. As Gravance pulls back the curtain on Disney’s customer support, we see how the cherished brand created a customer experience that feels like magic — and how it’s possible for all brands to utilize that similar sense of wonder in their customer engagement.

Keeping the Performance of Service Alive

There’s nothing innately majestic about the day-in, day-out grind of working in a support center. Yet, for many customers, a conversation with an agent is their first interaction with a brand. In these moments, service isn’t just a job — it becomes a performance. As performers, agents are putting on the show just as much as they’re assisting a customer, creating a lasting impression that can make shoppers fall in love with a brand from the second they step through your digital doors.

Gravance shared a simple but powerful secret: “Never let them see the wires.” In essence, he advises that customers simply want to know that their problem has been resolved. They don’t need to know the inner workings of how it got done behind the scenes.

The Real World Takeaway

In the support center, the idea of “the show must go on” is about sticking to the beliefs and behaviors of the brand, no matter the complexity of the task or mood of the customer. The customer service teams that never drop character or lose sight of the brand narrative will generate brand affinity and loyalty across the customer experience.

Understanding Customers Better Than They Understand Themselves

Customers can be difficult to read — and very often, they say things that don’t reflect the true issue. Say a customer contacts support because their package didn’t arrive on time. On the surface, they come across as upset by the inconvenience, but deep down, what they really want is to feel heard or valued. Somehow, someway, customer service reps need to discern the root cause of why a customer is disgruntled — something they seldom can articulate clearly themselves.

To pick up on these cues, Gravance offers a few tactics that his Disney years taught him. First, he says to let the customer lead the dialogue. The goal for the agent shouldn’t be to win an argument — it should be to actively listen for hints at what might actually be wrong. The more customers talk through their problems in depth, the more likely they are to reveal clues behind their distress.

Second, Gravance says agents should always be on the lookout for a way to “do something they don’t have to do.” This could be as simple as validating a customer’s tastes or preferences — seeing a product they buy regularly and providing them with a coupon for it, or remembering their birthday and offering a freebie. But taken a step further, this could mean forging an emotional connection deeper than the superficial interactions of responding to simple service requests. Just as the actors at Disney’s theme parks improvise memorable moments for kids, agents can use their personalized knowledge of customers to make them feel heard, understood, and cared for.

The Real World Takeaway

The difference between satisfactory and exemplary brands is how they go out of their way to surprise and delight customers. When brands go above and beyond, they earn shoppers' long-term loyalty — and more importantly, their repeat business. That starts by knowing the customers intimately. A tool like Customer Profile from Gladly consolidates the customer's habits, details, and preferences into one interface, helping agents bring that “wow” factor to every interaction.

Inspire and Empower the Boots on the Ground

From his decades at Disney, Gravance discovered an essential truth about building morale in a support center: “They will not do it for you, but they will do it for a common purpose.”

Translated to the support center, this means agents aren’t going to feel inspired to work for their manager or company alone. However, they will find meaning in contributing to something that’s greater than themselves — whether that’s reflected in a brand’s values, their mission, or the team they work with.

This is where the role of CX leader becomes so crucial — if you can empower staff to feel that common purpose, they’ll be more inspired in their work. In practice, leaders can offer more training, brand insight, and growth opportunities. They can also give service staff the tools they need to execute their “superpower,” as Gravance refers to it, and respond accordingly with exceptional work.

The Real World Takeaway

Inspired and empowered customer service heroes are far more adept at delivering those surprise-and-delight moments customers love. By equipping your staff with technology like Gladly AI, agents feel like true product and brand experts, improving their ability to improvise and provide loyalty-building experiences.

Finding the Magic of the Support Center

Gravance gave the attendees of Gladly Connect Live 2024 plenty to consider and discuss as he left the stage, inviting an exchange of ideas and support stories that continued throughout the event. If you weren’t there to see it live, you can watch Gravance’s keynote for more insight into improving support performance through excellent leadership. Then, sign up for Gladly Connect and share your takeaways with a wide-ranging group of like-minded CX professionals from across the support community.


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