Nothing Mickey Mouse about Disney’s customer experience
Disney Parks is the world's most-visited theme park company. It is responsible for the conception and maintenance of all the Walt Disney resorts, hosting in excess of 100 million guests every year. With such a large number of holidaymakers to cater for, the brand has not been shy in its approach to customer experience design, creating destinations that focus on the visitors' entertainment, comfort and pleasure. Such an approach has afforded Disney Parks an exceptional CEE score of 8.47, and an excellent fifth place in the US Customer Experience Excellence rankings.
The company began life on July 17th 1955, when the brand's founder, Walt Disney, designed the Disneyland resort in Florida. In the years that followed, Disney Parks became an international brand, opening resorts in Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong. Having now been in operation for 60 years, with a catalogue of films and animations dating back to the 1920s, the Disney brand is one that instils great warmth, affection and trust, and its anthropomorphic mascots are instantly recognisable across the globe.
Alas, feelings of affection do not guarantee customer experience management success; Disney Parks has worked very hard over the decades to take care of its visitors, with a customer experience design shaped around parents and children. Indeed, one of the emergent themes of the 2015 study is that of CEOs acting as customer experience pioneers. Walt Disney himself may have passed away in 1966, but his approach to customer experience design lives on, invested in the core of his employees. Apparently, he used to walk around the Disney resorts in disguise so that he could hear what his customers had to say about their experiences. He would then use this information to report back to his executives, inspiring them to find creative solutions to any problems that had arisen. And he wouldn't let his employees leave the resort to get lunch; Disney insisted that if the park's facilities weren't good enough for his workers, then they weren't good enough for his customers. This was a vision that extended to children, too. Walt Disney often crawled around the attractions on all-fours, so that he could experience his creations from the point of view of a child.
It may sound unconventional, but even today, Disney Parks is a company not limited by financial or technological concerns; its employees are constrained only by their imaginations. The brand refers to this approach as 'imagineering,' and continually strives to push the creative envelope by way of 'innoventions', which set new levels in guest experiences. As the brand puts it: "There's no such thing as 'thinking too big'… This is where you can dream up your wildest ideas and join forces with world-class experts to make them a reality. Our ultimate goal is to leave our guests in awe, while inspiring the next generation of Imagineers to ask, 'How can I do that some day?'"
Of course, not every company is going to forge magical kingdoms populated by fairytale characters, but Disney Parks' commitment to its customers is truly inspiring. It is motivated by their pleasure, not by their wallets, and its place at number five in the US customer experience excellence rankings is well-deserved. As Vicki Joshi, Nunwood's Experience Design Director, points out: "Disney Parks is the perfect example of a brand whose customer experience design has been shaped from the top down. Its customer culture is applied with religious enthusiasm, adhering to the values laid down by its founder over 60 years ago. It is one of the true heroes of the 2015 study."
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