Lessons in Experience Planning from the Masters

by Jeannie Walters

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Ask any parent and they’ll tell you that a family vacation is often something that feels anything but relaxing. Traveling with kids can be stressful and parents are never really off duty, so to speak.

And yet we do it. We pack up the kids, bribe them on airplanes to behave, plan potty breaks into our fun agendas and go forth. We did this for spring break and hit the west coast with our 6 and 9 year old boys. We hit five major attractions in 6 days, including Legoland, Disneyland, California Adventure, Monterey Bay and Yosemite. Crazy? Perhaps. But it was a lot of fun.

Try as I might, I can’t quite turn off my work radar.

So it probably won’t surprise you to know I kept noticing just what worked about the experiences we were enjoying – as customers and as a family. Disney and Lego are brands known for their master marketing, exceptional experience planning and overall branding. They did not disappoint. Here, lessons from the greats.

Experience Planning

Photo by Jim Winstead via Creative Commons license

1. Plan for the unexpected.

Picture this – standing in line for a ride with your 9 year old who declares this one his favorite. The lines are all long, so we secure our spot and wait and wait. 70 minutes later a vague announcement declares the ride is suddenly un-ride-able. They open the ropes and you realize the dreams of your child are dashed. Instead of just releasing us to the wild, the Disney “cast member” hands us a slip of paper. It is a golden ticket. Our family can use that to jump to the front of the line for any ride in the park. On a busy spring break day, that is meaningful. Disney understands that while things will go wrong, they can prepare to resolve the disappointment.

2. micromoments can be anywhere.

The branding acumen seen was pretty remarkable. One of the images that stuck with me at Legoland was the bathroom signs.

Experience Planning

It’s a thoughtful approach to a common and typically boring interaction. How can you not smile when you first see these guys? And kids can relate!

3. Behind the scenes is interesting!

When you have loyal fans like Disney and Lego do, they want to know everything. They want to know how things are made. Walking through the “Lego Factory Tour” attraction was interesting for kids and parents alike. Did you know used Lego brick molds are buried in the foundations of buildings so competitors don’t get them? Wow! At Disney’s California Adventure, fans are treated to exhibits about how Pixar created Toy Story. Cool stuff.

Experience Planning

Photo by Smart Destinations via Creative Commons license

There are so many cool ideas to take into your own business. Before you say “We’re not Disney,” there are many other examples which show how great companies consider each part of the experience. Making something special means understanding what your customers are actually doing. Show an appreciation for where they are in their journey and they will reward you with loyalty.

What do you notice about great experiences?

 

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, a Forbes Coaches Council Member, a C-Suite Network Advisor, a LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com instructor, and a TEDx speaker. Learn more here.

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