Marketing Tip #47: What’s your oops plan?

January 26, 2016

what's your oops planEvery business needs to have an oops plan — a pre-determined course of action that allows you to make amends with your customers when something goes wrong.

This isn’t something you can create on the fly — it needs to be something that is rehearsed and ready to take off the shelf at a moment’s notice.  Because even the biggest organizations drop the ball. Even my beloved Disney.

I spent a long weekend at Disney World recently. Disney has a system called Fast Passes that allow guests to pre-register to ride some of their more popular rides.

At the pre-determined time, the guest shows up and goes into an expedited line that gets them on the ride in a fraction of the time that the normal line would take.

At Epcot, the ride in greatest demand right now is called Soarin’ and it’s not unusual for the regular line to have a wait time in excess of 90 minutes. So a Fast Pass to Soarin’ is worth it’s weight in gold since it reduces the wait time to about 15 minutes.

Being a regular Disney goer, I’d secured Fast Passes for the ride. We were in next group to ride when one of the cast members announced that everyone needed to leave the building immediately. When pressed, one of the cast members said there had been a fire alert triggered and although they were sure there was no fire, better safe than sorry.

As we dig into this case study, keep in mind:

  • They evacuated everyone in line, both Fast Pass holders and the people who had been patiently waiting for over an hour.
  • For most people, a trip to Disney World is a once in a lifetime event. They’ve saved for years and have planned out their days to maximize every moment.
  • Most Disney guests only budget one day for each of the major parks, which means if they don’t get to see something that day – they won’t see it at all.
  • The people holding the Fast Passes had already used them – they’re only good once so the effort they went to secure them was wasted.

When someone asked if they could re-use their Fast Pass, another cast member told them to visit the information desk outside the attraction and they’d probably be able to help.

Within the three minutes of the evacuation announcement, cast members were lined up every 10 feet (we left the building through an emergency exit that took us into space that guests are not normally allowed) to guide the guests back to Epcot’s public space. So clearly they’d rehearsed the evacuation process. Everything was orderly and safe.

But it had no Disney magic. Here’s what they missed:

No one apologized for the disappointment or inconvenience: When you mess up, more than anything else your customer wants to know that you’re genuinely sorry and understands their disappointment and frustration.

They didn’t proactively tell everyone how to get a make good: Customers know that sometimes things don’t go according to plan. They’re willing to go with the flow, but they want to know how you’re going to make it up to them and that you’ve thought about it before they ask.

The cast members were not well informed: The very people who had to deal with the customer knew the least. They didn’t know how long the ride would be closed or how people could check to see if it was back up. Don’t leave your team in the dark if they have to deliver some bad news to your customer. Make sure they have the answers.

If customer magic maker Disney can mess up, then we’re at risk too.

Take some time to identify the danger zones where you could potentially disappoint a customer. Figure out where you’re vulnerable and outline how you’d like to handle both fixing the problem and resolving your customer’s frustrations that it happened.

Meet with your entire team to review your oops plan. Then, get it in writing and review it regularly with your team so that when a mistake happens – you all are ready.


How badly do you want it?

June 1, 2012

There’s a remarkable difference between wishing for something and the relentless pursuit of a dream.

On this, the 65th anniversary of when they broke ground on Walt Disney World… I ask you this:

What do you want so badly that you’d ignore all the nay sayers, tune out all of negativity, keep getting up every time you get knocked down and when you close your eyes… you don’t see what might be, you see what WILL be?

And… when are you going to start making it a reality?  Walt Disney faced bankruptcy, professional ruin, and more “no’s” than you or I could ever imagine hearing.  But the vision was so strong, so real and so non-negotiable – he simply kept at it.

There’s a famous story that I love.  On the opening day of Walt Disney World, Walt’s brother Roy was being interviewed.  The reporter commented that it was a shame that Walt did not live to see it.  Roy quietly replied, “if Walt hadn’t seen it first, we wouldn’t be seeing it today.”

When you let yourself close your eyes and see the most audacious, crazy but spectacular thing in the world… what do you see and what are you doing to create it?

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When you set the bar — better keep your eye on it

March 20, 2012

In almost every category, there’s a champion.

Apple, Harley Davidson and of course…Disney. Each of these brands set the bar. They’ve defined excellence and their competitors struggle to catch up.

They are the gold standard.

An enviable position to be sure. Or is it?

Last week, we spent our Spring Break in Orlando.  If you’re a regular reader — you know this is not new territory for me.  In fact, I’ve been to Walt Disney World at least once a year since it opened in 1971.  It’s a magical place for me and no one is more pro Disney than me.

One of the elements of Disney that I love the most is their commitment to customer service.  They call it Disney friendly and it is something to behold.  (They even have an institute dedicated to teaching it to others)  We love catching Disney cast members creating what we’ve deemed “a Disney moment.”  A kid licks the ice cream right out of his cone.  A cast member runs and gets him a new cone.  A room is not ready when promised.  A cast member gives the entire party free passes to the parks.  A reservation is messed up.  Cast members send up a beautiful chocolate Mickey.

But lately — we’ve noticed fewer and fewer Disney moments.  In fact, we’ve noticed that Disney cast members are behaving more and more like ordinary employees.  I don’t know if it’s because they’re running leaner on staff or if they’ve cut back on the training — but somewhere along the way, some of the cast members have forgotten that while it’s a regular work day for them, it’s a dream of a lifetime day for the guest in front of them.

Seems like the bar is slipping a little.  At the same time, Disney’s competitors, chiefly Universal Studios and Sea World are stepping up their game.  We crossed over to the dark side and visited Universal Studios (we wanted to see the Harry Potter park) this trip.  I don’t know if they stole Disney’s best employees or just their best training program — but the Universal employees couldn’t have been more exceptional.  They were delivering “disney moments” left and right.  The theme parks were nothing extraordinary — Disney still has them beat there, but from an experience point of view — the little guys have been learning from the champ and are starting to clean their clock.

What’s the marketing lesson in all of this for us?

If you are the market leader and you’ve defined excellence — you have everything to lose.  You cannot sit on your laurels.  You need to find ways to keep the passion for delivering that excellence alive and well in your employees.  You have not only set the bar but you’ve set your customer’s expectations.

I’m no longer surprised by Disney moments… I expect them.  And while I still enjoy seeing them, they’re a given for me.  So when they are not there — it is a deficit that I notice.  And it is a deficit that gets talked about.  (Bad word of mouth)

If you’re not the market leader — the lesson is — keep pushing.  The guy in the front of the pack may grow weary or hit some sort of bump that will allow you to surge ahead of them.  Don’t assume you can’t have that lead position.  When you over-deliver, it is a surprise and delights your customers.  And it will get talked about.  (Good word of mouth)

If you set the bar — mind the bar.  It’s yours to keep or lose.  And how that plays out is completely up to you.


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