Having just spent a week at Walt Disney World, I have to say their ability to answer questions is what sets them apart. In the times of this economic stress, I have to think they’re a little scared — family vacations are likely the first thing to get cut. But the smiles never stopped and the answers to our questions never went unanswered. From the top on down, it is apparent that attending to the needs of the folks that pay the bills is paramount. If I asked the street sweeper (the job I most do NOT want at WDW), I got answers (closest water fountain over there, AND you can get a free cup of water at ANY drink kiosk). When I was in the cab of the monorail (a COOL job), the driver never tired of my endless queries (they have 180 monorail drivers and can take ~300 of the 65,000 visitors each day to the park in a single train). The ticket-taker at Space Mountain entertained my questions (1815 riders per hour). The lady trying to sell $16,600 Disney Vacation Club memberships answered a steady stream even when it was obvious I was just killing time waiting on Cinderella to get out of the bathroom before the big dinner. The front desk clerk kindly explained that Classic Car Memorabilia charge was in fact a stroller rental, and did it with grace and a smile, even across the phone line. And so on, and so on…I’d guess that the same is true with your business. Answering the questions of your clients, potential clients, or even just folks you run into is paramount to success. And yet few do it well. I have a colleague who rarely answers email. Others who get voice mails leave them unanswered regularly. Even face-to-face encounters seem to be focused on putting off answers instead of coming up with them. It’s socially rude and business suicide.

Answer questions. Timely. Accurately. Happily.

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