At Disney, Someone Always Owns The Moment

Another speaker that I enjoyed at the The Premier Business Leadership Series in Orlando was Scott Hudgins, Vice President, Customer Managed Relationships at The Walt Disney Company. When someone at Disney talks about customers, I’m all (Mickey’s) ears. Especially when he said this (which I thought was really profound):

No one owns the customer, but someone always owns the moment

Hudgins, like others at the event, discussed their use of analytics with SAS. Disney’s goal is to “know the guest well enough so that at any time or place we know what to do next.” It turns out that Disney recently crossed the line where they have data on more than half of their customers.

In 2011, Disney had a goal “know me and be relevant.” They focused on 5 to 10 segments. Now they create individual experiences for 100s of 1,000s of individuals. He discussed some of the techniques they use to do this throughout the lifecycle of a park visitor:

  • When someone is thinking about a trip, Disney will send a DVD. This allows people to make their own customized maps of the parks — which, in return, provides Disney with data on their preferences.
  • Disney sends these “shoppers” a personalized email (with more than 1 billion permutations) right away. They’ve found that success of those emails drops 20% per day.
  • After the shopper books a trip, they send a welcome mailer to reinforce the decision and reduce buyer’s remorse. This has reduced about one-quarter of the cancellations.

Hudgins describes Disney moving from “disparate campaigns talking to guests” to “harmonious communications with guests.” He showed an evolutionary path from “rewards program” to “lifetime value recognition” to “consumer-centric way of doing business.”

Hudgins has about 75 people on his team across these areas:

  • Program management
  • Campaign management
  • Reporting/analytics
  • Modeling
  • Business development

The bottom line: Who owns the moments with your customers?

About Bruce Temkin
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, marketing, interaction design, customer service, and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

4 Responses to At Disney, Someone Always Owns The Moment

  1. Bruce: I, too, am always amazed at how Disney keeps raising the bar on the CE. They leave nothing for granted, constantly pushing the envelope on new and innovative ways to create AND deliver the ultimate customer experience. Every Disney event and speaker I hear leaves me with yet another nugget of information and insight. Thanks for bringing us these “pearls of CE wisdom” and sharing!

  2. That is a great post and a fabulous quote, Bruce. Magical even! My wife and I are DVC members and have just come off a cruise on the Disney Wonder – many instances of moments being made very special. My eldest did a couple of graduate programmes in Florida after completing university here in the UK. I still have and frequently refer to my notes taken in 1996 when attending the Disney Approach to Customer Service event.

  3. Magiel Tak (The Netherlands) says:

    Very nice blog. Or better: nice vision of Disney! An interesting fact, I think, is the fact that creative organisations like Disney, are also creative in doing business. Next to Disney, Cirque du Soleil is one of the great examples described in The Blue Ocean Strategy. And I’m now also reading Business Exposed, in which the author uses a London Theather as a possitive example of an organisation that is succesfull now and is also able to create new sources of revenue. Having said this, print publishers ought to be creative as well, but are not in my experience, and should learn from this CX-wisdom in order to stay alive.

  4. Wilson Raj says:

    Great distillation of how Disney leverages analytics to deliver CX opportunities to “own the moment.”

    What struck me were the various, multi-disciplnary roles represented in Hudgins’ organization–and most certainly in other stakeholder teams such as marketing, service, retail, etc–needed to deliver on such “magical’ CX moments. This certainly speaks to Disney’s approach to data: sharing meaningful, empowering customer-centered analytics across business functions to truly “know me and be relevant” as stated in their 2011 goal.

    Thanks for sharing, Bruce!

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