25 January 2009

Enjoying the Wonderful World of Disney

It's no wonder that Disneyland is often called the "happiest place on Earth." Visiting the park yesterday reminded me that, besides its affable characters, one of Disney's strongest assets is customer service.

Disneyland is full of cheerful employees whose purpose is to perpetuate fairy tales and make your dreams come true. Why? Disney knows that satisfied customers will spend money and come back.

I realized yesterday what an ingenious idea the "FastPass" was a couple years ago. The premise: give people a ticket to the most popular rides that essentially holds their place in line. The ticket specifies a 60-minute time slot during which the holder has access to the front of the line for that attraction.

The FastPass is great – instead of spending 2 hours in line for the best rides, you can get a FastPass and wait no more than 10 minutes. The marketing behind the magic: now customers have an extra hour and fifty minutes to wander the park and spend money.

It's an easy gesture that makes a big of difference. The Sundance Kabuki Cinemas in San Francisco and many Los Angeles movie theaters give customers a break by assigning seats when you purchase a ticket. Rather than encouraging customers to waste time saving seats in the theater, they offer Zen-like concessions where customers can lounge around until it's time for their movie to start.

In the world of apparel, Nordstrom and Anthropologie are quick to start dressing rooms for customers. They initiate a relationship with customers and take clothing off your browsing hands so you can shop comfortably.

Give customers a break. Offer them a peaceful atmosphere and an enjoyable experience, and they'll be happy. It's a formula that Disney has almost perfected, but it's not magic – it's just common sense.

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