On this episode, Paul examines Disney’s great customer experience and how it translates to selling.
Surround the customer with your message of value.
Is it easy to buy from your company?
Details are important.
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“Are you willing to never be satisfied with where you’re at?”
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How do I create a customer experience like Disney World?
(Transcribed from podcast)
On today’s show, we’re going to talk about how to create a customer experience like Walt Disney World. Now I know many of you listening have probably been to Walt Disney World. We just got back just a couple of weeks ago from Walt Disney World. We had a great time. I’m going to talk about that as well. But Disney, they are marketing geniuses. They create a great experience. That’s why they’re such a successful company, so that’s what we’re going to talk about on today’s episode is, “How do you create an experience like Walt Disney World?”
Now, before we get into that question, a quick shout-out to our sponsor over at The Creative Impostor Studios. Speaking of a great experience, Andrea and her team are just so easy to work with. They do a wonderful job helping us out on the podcast every single week, making things happen for us. If you’re thinking about making a change to your podcast, or you’re thinking about starting a podcast, reach out to Andrea and her team. Get started with the right people. That’s going to help you be successful. We’re going to have a link over to her website on this episode’s webpage.
Also, make sure you pick up your latest edition to Value-Added Selling. in Value-Added Selling, we’ve got five defensive selling strategies. And these defensive selling strategies are really about how you can create a better experience for your customer. So check that out. Again, the whole focus today is about creating a better overall experience. Pick up your copy of the book. It’s going to be your go-to guide on how to do that. Value-Added Selling is available on Amazon or wherever you get your books.
So let’s get back to that question: How do you create an experience like Walt Disney World? It’s challenging to do. Disney does an absolutely wonderful job. It’s amazing going down there. We love going down there. And I will admit here on the show in front of everyone, I am a Disney nerd. I truly am. We’ve been there several times. I love reading about Walt Disney. I do have Mickey ears. I don’t wear them all the time, but on special occasions I will. You’ve got to remember, my kids are at an age where it’s still cool if I wear them. Eventually, they’re going to just make fun of me and all that stuff and that’s okay. We all get there at some point. But we love Disney. I need to admit that before we get into this podcast. And this is not an advertisement for Disney, it’s just based on our experience down there. And I’m going to talk a little bit about the marketing side of it as well.
So, first thing I’m going to mention, Disney does a wonderful job of surrounding you with their message of value. That’s one of the reasons they create such a great experience is because they surround you with a message. From the very beginning, when you’re getting ready to decide to go down to Disney world, they start surrounding you with a message that sets an expectation. So that’s typically how we will decide when we’re going to go to Disney, or if we’re going to go to Disney—maybe that’s a better way to say it. But remember the customer experience, it begins from the moment a need exists, not when you buy something or experience it. It’s really beginning that journey once you have a need. Once you have a need. So Disney does a great job of establishing the need. That’s how they initiate their customer experiences. They establish the need, and they do that by surrounding you with their message of value.
For example, in our most recent trip, you know, we booked it earlier this year. I know we’re in COVID times and all that. So we did kind of a last-minute trip, I guess, for us. We booked it a few months in advance, and what triggered it was a commercial. I don’t know if any of you have seen this commercial, but it’s really funny how it happened. I’m going to put it on the actual transcription here, but here’s what happened.
So my wife and I are sitting around, we’re watching TV, and this commercial came on for Walt Disney World. And it was an old recording we were watching. It was like a pre-COVID Disney commercial. We were watching a recorded show we recorded a long time ago. And this commercial shows up. And it’s a picture of a little girl, probably about three years old running up [to] Cinderella’s Castle and she’s meeting Cinderella for the very first time. And it’s obvious that her dad is recording it on his phone, he’s recording the video on the phone. And it’s a really cool commercial, but then here’s what happens.
The commercial zooms out, and it turns out it’s the dad watching an old video of his daughter meeting Cinderella, and he’s moving his daughter off to college. He’s it shows him in the bedroom and the dad is crying, watching his three-year-old daughter meet Cinderella. And now he’s moving her into the dorm room. Tears are streaming down his face. His daughter looks at him and says, “You’re going to miss me.” He says, “I won’t even know that you’re gone.” I mean, it certainly made me smile, but I looked over at my wife and she’s crying seeing the commercial and I’m thinking, ‘Okay, we’re going back to Disney World.’ ‘Cause my kids are at an age where they’re still in that window where it’s cool.
So Disney does a great job of surrounding you with their message. They trigger that emotion. They know what to do to establish the need. But that in and of itself, was a very positive beginning to our experience because as we looked at that commercial, it made us think about our previous experiences there and how, “Yeah, maybe it is time again. Why not? Let’s take a look at this.” So that’s where the journey began.
So the next thing to do, and this is in no particular order. Disney really makes it easy to buy. When we went on their website, we looked around, we put some dates out there when we want to go. And really, the process of buying and purchasing that trip was very easy. That’s one of the things that’s important. And this is more of a tactical/technical type of deal, but when you make it easy to buy, people buy more. When you make it easy to buy, people come back to you. When you make it easy to buy, you give them less of a reason to doubt their decision. So it’s important that you make it easy to buy.
So the second thing we did, we went on the Walt Disney World website, went through the process, selected dates. You know, you put number of children you have, you select your type of resort, if you’re going to stay on property, you get your tickets, you do all that. They really make it easy. Not only that, one thing they will also do, and this is the third thing since we’re keeping track, they will follow up with you regularly. Once you go onto their website, You know, there’s cookies or whatever, it’ll track you. You will get these little reminders. So when you go to a website, you’ll see the ad pull up. You check Facebook or whatever, Twitter or whatever, and maybe you’re going to start seeing some Disney ads in there. And again, these are just subtle reminders. You’re going to receive emails: “Hey, you still thinking about taking that trip?”
They follow up with you regularly. They’re sprinkling the message around you. Maybe that’s their pixie dust they sprinkle, right? I know you’re all laughing hysterically at that comment. But anyway, they surround you with that message. They follow up with you. And so that is going to be critical when you’re trying to create that experience.
So this is, this is just at the beginning of the journey. So again, my wife and I, we saw the commercial that triggered the need. They made it easy to buy from [them]. They followed up with us regularly. That helped to build some anticipation. And the next thing that they do, this is when you get into the park, man, they exceed your expectations. They exceed your expectations with their customer service.
We’ve been to Disney World I want to say maybe 15 to 20 times—15 to 20 times. That’s a lot. I can only recall one instance, one instance out of that whole timeframe where I had a bad experience, and it was one employee. That’s pretty remarkable. You think about all the interactions that I’ve had in Disney World, our family’s had if we’ve been there 15 to 20 times, out of all of those interactions, there’s only one. And I could say, I still remember the guy’s name. There’s only one example of a bad experience, which means I’ve had thousands of interactions, thousands of touch points with different employees asking questions.
I remember one time in this last trip, I was just walking around one of the parks. It was Hollywood Studios. I was walking with my oldest daughter. It just looked like I was looking for something. And I was trying to find directions to new area of the park, and me being a typical guy, I wasn’t going to ask for directions. But I just looked like I needed help. And so an employee walked over to me and said, “Sir, can I help you find anything?”
That’s part of what they do. I don’t know how they do it. I’d love to read more about just the Disney training process, but they train their employees to exceed expectations. And that happens every time. We’ve been there so often that our expectation level is extremely high, but they always seem to exceed it. And it leaves us being delighted. That’s another thing is they just always find a way to enhance the experience.
Another thing, man, they focus on the details. No detail is too small. No detail is overlooked as far as I can tell. And I think a lot of that dates back to Walt Disney, the founder of the company. I mean, if you read any books on him, he was an absolute fanatic. I mean, this guy paid attention to details. In fact, there was a rumor that some of the cartoonists—. You know the old cartoons, how they’d make them, they’d have to draw each picture and then flip through pieces of paper to see the changes and all that. During one of the cartoons, he was pre-screening it, just editing it, looking at it. And the cartoonist, as a joke, wanted to put just a mark in one of the pieces of paper so that it would barely show up for just a moment as he was looking through the cartoon. And apparently Disney told the group of cartoonists, “Hey, everything looks, good. Let’s go with the cartoon except on one portion at this piece, there’s some dash you guys need to remove.” So he called attention to it. He noticed the details.
There’s other rumors of Disney if he was walking around a Disneyland (because he never saw the actual Disney World. He died before it was completed), but when he was walking around Disneyland apparently with some of his executives, I don’t know if it was an executive or just to manager of some sort. It was a high-level person within Disney though. The person didn’t pick up a piece of trash that they saw. They stepped over the trash and didn’t pick it up. And apparently Disney fired him for that. Unbelievable. So attention to detail, it’s part of who they are.
And here’s some of the things that Disney will do that you don’t even think about. When they’re pointing to certain sections of the park, they’re taught to use three fingers and not just one because in some cultures that might be considered rude. Little details like that. Another thing, at each one of the employee break areas, they have a system of double doors. So you go through the first door, which is exiting the park. Then you go into a tiny room, dark room. You close that door and then you open the other door into the employee breakroom area. And the reason why is because they don’t even want to risk you seeing someone out of character. They don’t want you to see Cinderella smoking a cig, on her cigarette break. Not that she would, but anyway, they have these double doors so you can’t see behind the curtain, so to speak, because you’re on stage once you are out in front of guests. They do all these things, and it’s because of the details.
And the final thing that Disney will do—and this is just absolutely amazing to me—is they’re always improving and getting better. They call this “plussing” in the Disney organization. Plussing, it’s about improving something, making better and enhancing.
We’ve been there 15 to 20 times, as I mentioned. And each time we go there, there’s a new experience. They’ve tweaked it some way. They’ve enhanced it. They’ve improved it. And what I love most about this is when you see these improvements going on, they put these inspirational quotes from Walt Disney on the construction fence around them. For example, I remember, several years ago when we went, and Hollywood Studios was building the new Star Wars area, and I was really curious about it. And you know those construction fences, they try to block it out so it doesn’t seem unsightly, but I remember looking, and there was a quote from Disney that said, “Disneyland will never be completed as long as there’s imagination left in the world.” And that quote was from Walt Disney when he was being peppered by reporters asking him, “Hey, when’s Disneyland going to be finished?” And this is the one out in Anaheim. Because the project kept getting delayed and delayed and delayed. And finally Disney just said to the reporter, “Look, it’s never going to be finished as long as there’s imagination left in the world.”
So within the Disney organization, it’s almost like Walt Disney has inspired them to keep wanting more. His insatiable desire when he was alive and built this, his insatiable desire created some things that people thought were impossible. He invented new technology to help realize his vision. And when you think about that—. Think about that and how it relates to your customer experience. Are you willing to go above and beyond? Are you willing to never be satisfied with where you’re at? Are you always going to look for ways to “plus” and improve? That’s how you create that Disney experience.
And finally, you follow up. Once we got home from our trip, check my emails (the 500 that I received while I was gone), and one of the emails I got was from the Walt Disney organization thanking me for the trip, asking me for feedback, showing some of the photos that we had taken throughout the trip. They followed up with it afterwards. And you know what that does, it makes us want to go back. So that new experience will begin, I’m sure. in just another year or two.
But folks that’s what Disney does. Just to just a quick rundown on it. They surround you with the message. They make it easy to buy from them. They follow up regularly. They exceed expectations. They focus on the details. And they’re always looking for ways to improve and get better. And then they follow up again.
Make it a big day.