Leading UAE-based FM company, learns how leadership excellence determines exceptional customer service from Disney experts in US

The head of talent development from leading UAE-based technology and sustainability-driven facilities management (FM) company Farnek, has just returned from a training course and fact-finding mission, at the Disney Institute, Lake Buena Vista, near Orlando, in the US state of Florida.

Uzair Bhamji, who manages the personal and professional development of Farnek’s 8,000 employees, commented: “Disney has been at the forefront of customer service excellence, since it opened its first theme park in Anaheim, California in 1955 and has managed to stay relevant, by defining leadership through actions rather than by title. These leaders create shared values and propose a compelling vision within a framework of effective leadership practice.

“Disney firmly believes that a strong, clear and well-defined customer service strategy coupled with employee empowerment, tends to drive stronger employee performance, which leads to exceptional customer service and ultimately, improved business results,” he said.

“Disney’s customer strategy defines how every employee is expected to behave in every situation and how to make decisions using the D-think mentality. This means that there is no need to improvise at the point of service delivery,” added Bhamji.     

During his week-long visit, Bhamji was taken through the ways in which to better foster leadership at Farnek and to understand how to intentionally demonstrate the behaviours that uphold Farnek’s vision and organisational values, in a parallel fashion to how Disney operates.

“Disney’s consistent business results are driven by superior customer service and this is how it sets itself apart from other organisations,” said Markus Oberlin, CEO, Farnek.  

“One of the most compelling propositions about Disney is that although it has over 8,000 cleaning and maintenance staff at Disney locations around the world, many of whom are earning a modest salary, it still offers some of the highest service standards in the world, proving that motivation is not merely confined to money,” he added.

Bhamji also made a number of interesting observations at Disney World, especially how Disney has created a culture of happiness (comparable in many ways to the UAE Ministry of Happiness) by referring to all team members as leaders; there are no employee numbers, merely partner numbers, cleaners are called custodians; empowerment was highly evident and finally there were no warning signs or negative symbols.

“It was also very interesting to notice that the ‘custodians’ were empowered to enhance the customer experience whenever necessary,” commented Bhamji.

Farnek is now making preparations to demonstrate the benefits of Disney’s customer service quality standards, to all of its workforce, through its state-of-the-art, in-house training centre, by October 2020, allowing Farnek’s customers to experience its new and enhanced levels of quality, emulating Farnek’s peers in the ‘magic kingdom’.

In terms of quality, Farnek was the first FM company in the UAE to comply with ISO 41001:2018 last year and is also certified by the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc). In addition, earlier this year, Farnek successfully achieved the ISSA Cleaning Industry Management Standard Green Building (CIMS-GB) certification.