Disney Institute, NBA Align


(from SportsBusiness Journal, November 4, 2013) The National Basketball Association (NBA) has recently partnered with the Disney Institute, the entertainment industry leader long known for its exceptional service, aiming to improve the fan experience at NBA arenas through a standardized arena customer service program.

Participation in this program is voluntary by NBA teams. Initial plans include strategies for teams to improve customer service during game nights, employee training, and the development of specific customer service standards. Each participating team will pay a near six-figure annual cost for the program.

Disney Institute executives will travel to participating NBA teams to customize the program. “We are working with Disney to set our own service standards,” said Amy Brooks, the senior vice president of the NBA’s team marketing and business operations department. “It will be position specific. There will be behavior guidance for what an usher will do, what a concessionaire will do, or what a ticket taker will do.”

The Disney Institute has worked with companies for two decades to improved customer service and employee training. It has worked with a variety of sports clients including the National Football League (NFL) and major college sports programs. Disney has forged a solid reputation since making sports a key growth area of its business, and teams that have worked with it praise the approach and training as resulting in stronger customer service. This partnership marks a deeper alignment where a league has partnered with a group to formulate a specific set of industry standards on the fan experience.

“The focus on the fan experience was a guiding principle into every piece of the development of the Amway Center and it manifested itself through our relationship with the Disney Institute,” said Alex Martins, the chief executive officer of the Orlando Magic, who is helping lead the NBA’s expanded involvement with the Disney Institute. “At this point, there is a pilot program with a handful of teams as the first step. Beyond that, there is a league intent to provide it in every one of its buildings.”