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6 Ways Disney World delivers top customer experiences

When it comes to world-class customer experience (CX), Walt Disney World is at the top of the list. Disney delights its customers young and old, from the moment they purchase their tickets to the moment they exit the park.

Disney puts value on the lifetime customer relationship and as a result has a 70 percent return rate for first-time visitors. Below are six lessons we can learn about customer experience from Disney.

1. Top-down CX/EX approach

On the first day of Disney training, employees are taught that their purpose, regardless of position, is to create happiness. Bruce Jones, Senior Director, Disney Institute, said “When our Cast Members know their primary goal is to create happiness, they are empowered to create what we like to call magical moments. From our park greeters to our attraction attendants, every employee makes decisions regarding a guest interaction centered on this key theme of ‘creating happiness.’” Leaders at Disney are constantly teaching about customer experience and training their employees to create magical moments. In addition to equipping employees to do their jobs, leaders help employees understand how they fit into the bigger organization and empower them to make a difference for their customers.

It’s hard to create an organization that exemplifies customer experience if it doesn't start at the top. It must be ingrained in the company culture and leadership should be so passionate about fostering a company culture that focuses on the customer experience that it flows into all areas of the company. In the Qualtrics webinar, How To Ignite Your Organization Through Leadership, Steve Bennetts, Employee Experience (EX) Expert at Qualtrics, says leadership must not only set the corporate vision, but the vision for experience management as a whole. Furthermore, research is finding that companies who understand the link between employee experience and customer experience reap financial benefits. 84 percent of organizations that prioritize CX report an increase in revenue and companies with high employee engagement report bringing in 2.5x more revenue than companies with low engagement.

Walt Disney himself was even rumored to be obsessed with customer service at Disneyland, once again proving that leadership dictates company culture.

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2. Knowledgeable staff

In addition to having some of the friendliest employees, Disney staff members know the details of their jobs well. On a recent trip, almost every staff member I encountered at Disney World knew the answer to my question, or could quickly find the answer. They also had recommendations for food and entertainment that made my visit more enjoyable.

According to Bloomberg BNA, training happens year-round and employees are constantly reminded to give consistent guest experiences. They take a comprehensive and strategic approach which reinforces their company values, history, and operating philosophies. New employees actually go through six weeks of training before they even see a guest. During training, Disney focuses on an experience mentality, rather than a task mentality.

When a consumer interacts with one of your customer service or sales representatives, can the same be said? Are your staff members knowledgeable about your products and empowered to handle customer complaints? In a recent study of 1,000 consumers by Gladly, 92 percent said they would switch to another company after three (or fewer) negative customer service experiences. How your employees interact with your customers can directly impact your bottom line.

3. Masterful personalization

Everybody wants to feel special, and Disney has a unique way of taking an experience meant for millions and personalizing it for the individual. When guests arrive to pick up their tickets, they can get a button that tells why they’re celebrating at Disney World, whether it be a birthday, marriage, retirement, or first time visiting. They aim to treat each guest individually and create personal interactions. Guests can schedule rides to minimize wait times and create their own personalized day with various dining and entertainment options.

Personalization is now key to achieving a superior customer experience. Companies must communicate to consumers on a one-to-one level and create relevant messaging and products to create long-term customers.

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4. User-friendly mobile app

The My Disney Experience App is one of the best apps I’ve ever used. First, it contains most of the information on the website but it’s not just the website shoved into app-form. It’s laid out well and even has GPS-enabled walking directions between attractions. I can easily find park hours, showtimes, wait times for rides, and order food so I don’t need to wait in line. It’s also personalized for me. All of my ticket, dining reservations, and photos are in the app, along with a personalized schedule that I can create to make sure I don’t miss the biggest rides and attractions.

Mobile devices continually redefine how people communicate and organizations must have a mobile-first mindset to retain their share of market. 57% of all US online traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets (BrightEdge, 2017) and that number is continuing to rise. Organizations must have a mobile-first mindset and continually think about the human on the other side of the screen.

5. Constantly capturing feedback

Disney understands its customers holistically because it’s constantly capturing feedback. The Disney survey team is in the theme parks capturing customer feedback as guests exit and enter the facility. I even got a survey emailed to me the day after I went to the Magic Kingdom. The survey started with basic demographic information and moved into asking about technology I use regularly and am planning to purchase. It asked my use of chat features, what technology I’m comfortable with, and how I used my smartphone during my recent Disney trip. The survey took about 15 minutes. They also allow for in-app feedback and guests can email in customer service suggestions.

In order to understand their customers, organizations must be constantly capturing feedback. Surveys should consist of multiple choice and open-ended feedback, so consumers can voice the things they think are most important.

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6. Create emotional connections with all their customers

Disney creates emotional connections with all its customers. They’re not just selling rides, but creating an experience. While many people think Disney is just for kids, Disney makes a concerted effort to cater to adults as well. On a recent trip, I actually saw more adults than children and Disney Springs stays open late. Disney also provides accommodations for guests with various disabilities, so no one has to miss out on the fun.

People will always remember the way you made them feel and by taking advantage of every opportunity to delight your customer, you will create lifelong customers. To emotionally connect with your customers, be genuine and respond to the feedback they give you.

For more information about taking your CX program to the next level, download our Customer Experience Design Toolkit today!

Customer Experience Design Toolkit