Ticket to Ride: Turning insights into action

When you think of the great examples of world class customer experience it’s hard not to think of Walt Disney World. The theme park opened in 1971 and quickly became the world’s most-visited entertainment resort. But no matter how successful the theme park has become, the Disney team continues to find new ways improve the customer experience.

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Anyone who has been to Disney World knows that tackling long lines at the theme park is almost an art form, as is booking highly sought-after restaurants. Disney is well aware of this issue and over the years has created a number of innovative ways to address this customer experience problem, the most notable being the Fastpass.

In fact, with a quick Google search, you’ll find that thousands and thousands of people are weighing in on this problem. It has become a business unto itself, with books, Disney travel specialists, countless publications, blogs, message boards, and websites providing all kinds of insightful information about how to navigate the Disney theme parks.

Disney could have easily tried to stop Frommer’s or other publishers from critiquing and reviewing Disney’s restaurants and ride attraction system, but instead, they used that information to try to improve. They took the seemingly negative comments about the Disney resorts, and used them as ammunition to evolve and improve the customer experience at their parks.

Disney has now taken this one step further with its $1 billion “Next Generation Experience” project, which will introduce technology-driven upgrades at Walt Disney World over the next few years.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs described a “version of Fastpass for an entire Disney vacation” during a speech at an investors conference last year and the Orlando Sentinel reported that future guests will be able to reserve specific ride times for popular attractions, secure seating for shows, make restaurant reservations and pre-book other experiences before they leave their homes on vacation.

Disney World is a great example of how a successful company (that attracts millions of customers to its theme parks every year) continuously dedicates their efforts towards understanding their customers. They carefully watches how people change, how generations change, how society changes. They use social media and traditional research as listening tools to uncover nuggets of insights that help to evaluate and highlight problems. And, they use these insights to fuel a dedicated team of customer experience professionals to find new and innovative solutions.