Disney and Gartner – Into the Looking Glass at the Future Customer Experience?

Disney and Gartner – Into the Looking Glass at the Future Customer Experience?

Entry provided by Ted Hunting- Senior Director North
America and Asia Pacific Marketing and Global Demand Generaion for Genesys

After 10+ trips to Disneyworld over the years I remember when my kids were very young being left with the brand impression “they beat your customer experience expectation”.  Back then it was personal touches like the “princess breakfast” in the Cinderella Castle for my daughter or the special seating for a water show that accompanied a dinner reservation.  Another time at Disneyland, I was actually shocked and surprised to be approached by Walt Disney’s daughter at dinner as she sat down with us to see how I liked the wine from the winery she owns in Napa.  To paraphrase the Disney movie:  “Be our guest, be our guest, put our service to the test”. But now and going forward the great customer experience will be made possible via technology as the key enabler to let businesses win and grow – and I saw it recently at Gartner’s biggest CIO/IT summit.

Hearing from technology luminaries at the Gartner ITxpo at Disneyworld where technology trends were discussed among CIOs and IT leaders with keynotes from tech leaders such as Facebook’s co-founder, the #3 leader at Google, and Microsoft’s Steve Balmer, a new picture for the future of the customer experience emerged.  The future – like when I first visited Disneyworld many years ago – will be centered on one key business outcome:  “meet or beat your customer experience expectation”.  Technology is now central to the customer experience.  Let me share some observations from the past week to illustrate…

Gartner luminaries talked about all future businesses will be totally driven “digitally”, coupled with mobile technology.  Businesses will win by making the most of “business moments”.  From a customer experience standpoint we see this today from customer experience innovators like Genesys:   knowing who someone is when they reach a contact center (e.g. via a database dip via contact center software to existing CRM systems), servicing them according to their preferred channel (e.g. confirming an order via a text message), routing them to the agent or business worker who can best help them (e.g. a bank’s high net-worth client routed to her advisor bypassing the IVR – or as our customer UPMC does, routing a patient to their “Health Concierge”).  Gartner also predicts that in the near future wearable technology will be everywhere.  It started with fitness devices and GPS watches and now its Google Glass, iWatches from Apple or Samsung but headed soon to where even clothing has a chip.  Gartner predicts any item over $100 will someday have a chip in it, allowing the “Internet everywhere” world to make for better business moments.

Now let’s relate this to Disney and what they rolled out while I was at the Gartner event. It’s the future today.  Ironically, EPCOT which now looks a little dated compared to when it opened was meant originally to showcase what the future would like someday – it stood for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.  While there I was shown the future of customer experience in the Disney “Magic Bands”.  Upon checking in to my hotel I was given wearable technology, a band with a RF chip.  So what was the magic and how did it illustrate Gartner’s “digital” and “business moments” from a customer experience standpoint?

  • The magic band opened my room door as a room key.
  • The magic band was programmed with my history –  it knew me.
  • The magic band let me make charges with it.
  • I went online or on my  smartphone and could make dinner reservations for myself and co-workers at  the conference – reservations were stored in the band and also accessible  via my smartphone.
  • One evening I had free and I  went to find a gift for my daughter in the Magic Kingdom with my magic band.  I went online to My Disney Experience and also downloaded the  “My Experience” app to test it out and was able to make my FastPasss  reservations for Space Mountain and Splash Mountain since I only had a few hours.  It was all stored in the band and I did more in 3 hours than I have ever done at Disney before.
  • At check-in I was invited to be in a test at their new “Be Our Guest” restaurant.  I ordered a dinner online, they knew me when I arrived from my band, and when I sat down they said “sit where you want well find you”.  The band even has geo location  in it.  They arrived minutes later with my sandwich.
  • When I used the band and bought  my now grown daughter a new Pooh animal for the one that she has on her bed that now looks very tired from many years ago, the cashier asked if  Pooh “needed a rest as he could be sent to my room or I could pick him up at the park later – or you can take him on an adventure today”.  I  smiled and headed off to Space Mountain and Splash Mountain before the  park closed with Pooh in hand.

Disney and Gartner together were a strange coincidence.  I found what Gartner was talking about during the keynotes was exactly what I was getting a glimpse of from Disney.  The future of the customer experience was seen today courtesy of Gartner and Disney.  Today, like 20 years ago, Disney “beat my expectations” when it came to the customer experience – only this time it was enabled via customer experience technology.  It’s why I love the technology industry and companies like Genesys that are at the forefront of leading the way toward great customer experiences, as are the customers we work with everyday.  “Digital” and making the most of  “business moments” are the future – starting now.