Archive for the ‘Services marketing’ Category

Creating great customer experiences

November 12, 2010

This post was inspired by Mitch Joe’s ‘Six Pixels of Separation’ podcast ‘Amazing Digital Marketing Experiences with Jared Spool’ (episode #226).

Services marketing was always one of my favourite marketing topics when I was studying marketing at university. In fact, I think it was services marketing and the idea of scripting, blueprinting and mapping the customer experience that really captured my imagination. Those three extra Ps in the extended marketing mix (People, Processes and Physical Evidence) allowed me to think of my own personal customer experiences and visualise how the marketers and planners for the company designed the whole experience.

For many companies, the customer experience can really add value to the brand and give the customer something very different.  And there’s no better customer experience than the one created – and maintained – by Disney.

At their theme parks across the world, Disney have led the way in creating a wonderful and memorable customer experience. The staff at Disney’s theme parks are trained as though they are actors. When they are out in front of the park’s visitors, they are ‘on-stage’ and can only come out of character once they are completely out of view of customers. All the people that work for Disney are part of the story – from the kiosk workers selling candy and sodas to the guys in the character suits playing Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse and Buzz Lightyear. The experience is all tied up in a bundle as part of the Disney brand, along with Micky Mouse, Cinderella’s castle and the famous Walt Disney signature.

But why do Disney bother going to such effort in order to create such a complex customer experience?

Website usability expert Jared Spool of User Interface Engineering points out that Disney have earned the right to charge customers significantly more for visits to their theme parks in comparison to other parks such as Six Flags, a US-based theme park company.  Disney have decided that it is worth the extra time and effort to create an experience-focused design as opposed to an activity-focused design, and that by adding value and creating a better user experience for customers  a price premium can be set. It is the increased margins from this premium that out-strips the extra cost for creating a higher level experience design.

Disney are different, imaginative, artistic – and remarkable. That (and 87 years of creativity and brand-building!) is what gives them the ability to offer customers a fantastic customer experience and charge them a premium in order to live and enjoy the Disney experience. Although the Disney strategy is not something all companies want (or need) to adopt, for businesses that are looking to improve their customer experience, Disney is an excellent example of how to do it – and do it really well.

What companies do you believe offer a great customer experience?