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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

STORY Brings Brands To Life

DISNEYWORLD 1998 originally uploaded by hytam2.
As promised in I Have Met The Mouse!, there's more relating to my Disney Institute visit.

Our facilitator - Rob Morton, Business Programs Consultant with the Disney Institute - held us captive for several hours. Although he could easily have impersonated a pirate like Captain Jack Sparrow [which he has], he didn't need to, we were so engrossed with the subject matter. First with the knowledge and then seeing it all come together in downtown Disney. Rob's presentation was titled The Power of Story: Bringing the Brand to Life.

S-T-O-R-Y captures how Disney creates its Magic. To underscore what a major undertaking this represents, consider that DisneyWorld has 60,000 cast members on site in Orlando [DisneyWorld is the largest single site employer in North America.]. On average, a guest will interact with 60 cast members per day. Each one of those has the potential to be either magic or tragic moments. [Kind of puts into perspective getting everyone in one store or a handful of stores focused on bringing your brand to life... It has to be easier, right?]

S-tudy the audience
T-ailor the experience
O-rchestrate the details
R-elate
Y-ield long term relationships
Study the audience. This is not only about observing and understanding visitors, but also knowing your own role and how that affects interactions with visitors - adapting vs. rigidly adopting, asking "so what?" to understand the repurcussions of decisions, and thought processes.

Guestology refers to Disney's study of the audience. Rob differentiated between knowledge [demographics, feedback from face to face surveys, telephone surveys 45 days after the visit - i.e., when the bill comes, utilization studies to pressure test supply/demand ~ quantitative] and understanding [i.e., think/feel] through listening posts, focus groups and shoppers' programs [~qualitative].

The power or the Disney Magic comes from knowing customers and looking beyond the words being used to figure out how to exceed guest expectations. Something that happens on-site may not be our fault, but it is our problem. And that means that it must be fixed to exceed expectations.

Disney even has a Guestology compass: Needs - basic, Wants - preferences associated with needs, Emotions - the positives, and Stereotypes - maximize positive stereotypes/minimize negative ones.

Tailor the experience. This captures the Disney definition of quality service: to exceed guest expectations, pay attention to details of delivery. [Vision without execution = hallucination.]

Key drivers of satisfaction for BOTH cast member and guest - which come from guestology insights - include:
+ make me feel special,
+ be knowledgeable,
+ respect my children,
+ treat me as an individual.

To align everyone around the service theme, Disney uses the following:

We create a WANT [an emotion ~ happiness]
By providing the finest in entertainment...
For people of all ages, everywhere.

It's then up to each individual cast member to determine what his/her purpose is in delivering on the service theme.

Orchestrate the details. Disney is famous for creating an experience that reveals itself over time! The richness of details is such that new layers can be discovered with each additional visit. To illustrate this point, we learned about the concept of "how do you BUMP the lamp?" A reference to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? which mixed cartoons with real life and included a bumped lamp that made the scene that much more believable. It wasn't necessary, but it added tremendous complexity and richness to the story. Disney uses this as a metaphor for how to get customers to say WOW!.

[This article by Terry Hadley from 3/22/2006 titled 'Bump the lamp' - go the extra mile, Disney style provides additional perspective.]

Here's how you 'bump the lamp' - by adhering to Service Standards. These include: Courtesy that recognizes every one's individuality. Treat each one as each wants to be treated. Efficiency. Safety. Show.

And, to help illustrate the Service Standards, Snow White's Seven Dwarfs come to the rescue:
1. Be Happy: make eye contact and smile.
2. Be like Sneezy: greet and welcome every guest. Be contagious.
3. Don't be Bashful: seek out guest contact.
4. Be like Doc: provide immediate service recovery. If you mess up and can fix the problem immediately, you generate a greater level of satifaction.
5. Don't be Grumpy: display appropriate body language at all times.
6. Be like Sleepy: create dreams and preserve the magical guest experience.
7. Do'n't be Dopey: thank each and every guest.

Naturally, there are delivery systems for the service standards:
+ Cast - the front line = the bottom line. "Right fit" matters, particularly from a cultural perspective. Is there passion for Disney traditions [heritage, values]. Performance training [be part of the show].
+ Setting - [real or virtual] be sure to send the right message. Guide the guest experience. Employ both visual and non-visual details. Separate on/off stage, but always maintain the setting.
+ Process - affects the guest experience. Best studied from the trenches. Must serve the exception as well as the masses. May be simple or complex!

If you imagine a matrix similar to the one pictured, you have a visual guide to use in decision making.

For example, as a cast member, I can't eliminate lines, but I can try to alleviate the waiting time by interacting with visitors, reminding them about safety precautions or entertaining the kids....

Relate is about building emotion into the experience to create those magical moments. "Take Fives" represent spontaneous events or random acts of kindness/magic. Cast members are encouraged to find ways to delight.

Yield long term relationships acknowledges that people visit Disney - they may prepare for their visit months ahead - and spend a great deal of money for the experience. A magical experience creates loyalty encouraging people to return often and engage in viral word-of-mouth marketing so others visit, too!

Rob referred specifically to Reichheld [this early post mentions Reichheld: Good Tea. Nice House.] in discussing the value of loyalty : a 5% increase in loyalty can increase profitability by 25% to 85% - significant value to associate with ensuring that a customer returns!

The loyalty connection is Disney's simple model for loyalty. It's where:
+ Contacts build RELATIONSHIP
+ Brand aligns with individual IDENTITY [self expression]
+ Experience delivers superior VALUE

This 12/03/2001 article by Mark S. Fulton Customer Service, Disney Style from Inside Business recaptures many of the points that Morton Made.

Finally, on my way to this event, I started reading How to Talk to Customers: Create a Great Impression Every Time with MAGIC. The overlap in sensibility [not to mention the word Magic] was eery in its relevance and appropriateness.

Case in point: both refer to Tarp Data about why customers leave. Why do you think customers go elsewhere? Because of better deals from the competition? Yeah. But only by 9%. Because of dissatisfaction? Yes, but only by 14%.

The most critical driver of customer defection is a PERCEPTION of INDIFFERENCE. By 68%. Staggering.

Rethink your experience. Your brand. Your relationship with employees as well as with customers. How might you use STORY to bring all of these to life and banish forever the evil of indifference?

How might you engrain deep into your organization's being the belief that "it may not be my fault, but it is my problem" to delight and exceed customer expectations?

Let me know. I'd love to hear!

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