What would Disney do? Creating an unequalled customer experience

Disney is very adept at making it as easy as possible to spend money at its parks – and to make you happy that you did so. Karen Montgomery of The Quilt Company, Pennsylvania explains how we can learn from that to enhance the shopping and education experience in our stores.

In mid-April I had the magical experience of accompanying my grandchildren to Disney World. Who could resist a few days in the most magical place on earth with a couple of adorable five year old twins?

No matter what the price

That price is definitely steep. I’m sure there are ways to do Disney for only ‘x’ dollars a day, but in the words of Elsa from Frozen, we decided to “Let it go”. We stayed on the Disney property, ate in the Disney restaurant and took part in all of the available Disney magic. Even with the Visa bill staring at me, it was still a magical trip.
As a retailer I was fascinated by how Disney creates that famous “Disney magic”. Here are a few clues I detected:

The Magic of ‘Free’

In the Disney World experience, everything possible is paid before you leave home. No need for cash – you simply tap your magic band. Don’t want to carry those souvenirs? They’ll be delivered to your hotel room. Taking little ones swimming? Help yourself to the free life jackets located at each pool. Disney has tried to think of everything.

If you think of something that was missed, just mention it and someone else will take care of that too. When the twins leaned against a railing one morning where the wet paint sign had blown away, we were given an apology and two $50 gift certificates for new shirts in the gift shop. When getting ice cream, we took our ice creams to the payment counter and the computer system had crashed. The young man at the register simply smiled and said “Enjoy your treats and have a wonderful day”. Disney have a policy that ‘no one should have their vacation ruined because the popcorn line is too long – if it is, simply give away free popcorn’.

Keep People Happy

What represents free popcorn in your store? Disney spends millions creating a unique experience. They wouldn’t want visitors going home talking about what they missed out on because the popcorn line was too long, so why take that chance? Bad news spreads far faster than good. Imagine the number of visitors that wouldn’t visit the park if they didn’t receive a glowing recommendation from friends and family – the long popcorn line could be a very expensive mistake. It is much easier to keep happy people happy than turn a grumpy person into a happy one.

When you start a class or workshop and a student realises that they forgot their thread, what do you do? Do you make them leave the class, wait in line and pay for the thread and miss part of the instruction, or do you simply hand them an open spool? This is a real complaint I have heard from one of my customers about a shop where she no longer attends classes.

What about finishing the project that is started in a class at your store? Are your classes designed for students to complete only a few blocks before they’re left on their own to finish? Do you offer unlimited assistance to students to finish any projects started in your classes? If not, how do you think the investment in the unfinished pile of projects in someone’s sewing room reflects on your store?

WWDD – What Would Disney Do?

Your version of the magic band

My five year old granddaughter will tell you that you don’t have to pay for anything at Disney World – you just tap the magic band. I know several stores that offer their own version of the magic band in the form of a summer class pass. Take any class you like, all summer long, for a flat fee prepaid in the spring. Supplies not included. We run this program and I have listened to customers telling their friends that the get to take to class for “free”.

Disney puts as much distance between the initial payment and your day in the park as possible. You walk in feeling that you haven’t spent a dime – so that $45 stuffed mouse seems much more reasonable. Because Disney will take your purchases back to your room for you, it is easy to forget that you have spent the money and you will have less of a problem spending more. The free life jackets at the pool saved us packing bulky items that saved us extra airline baggage fees.

What can you do to reduce hassle for shoppers and students who visit your store? What awkward items do they drag to classes and would providing these items improve your class attendance. We have always had cutting mats and rulers available for students to use. They don’t have to risk destroying an expensive mat in a hot car or breaking the corner of their long ruler.

An unequalled experience

Disney is very adept at making it as easy as possible to spend money at its parks and more importantly, making you happy that you spent it. Disney has proven that people will invest top dollar in an unequalled experience.

Disney has given its staff extensive training so that they never have to say to a guest “I don’t know”.

Take a look around your store and ask yourself “What would Disney Do?”

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