The Ugly Truth Behind Disney’s Success

The “ugly truth” behind the success of The Walt Disney Company is that they work damn hard to deliver one outstanding customer experience after another. It’s what sets them apart, and they are constantly striving to reach the next level.

Okay, so why does that matter to you?

In today’s world, no matter how good you are, how great your product is, no matter how well you advertise, regardless of your current bottom line, there’s an army of competitors out there waiting to knock you off, steal your ideas and take your place.

In other words, even your secret sauce has an expiration date.

In business, as management guru Peter Drucker said, the only things that add value are marketing and innovation. And, like it or not, innovation is not only key to success, it’s mandatory for survival over the long haul.

But with limited time and resources, where do you focus? What kind of innovation produces the highest return on investment?

Again, let’s take a look at Disney; They are obsessed with customer experience. They focus on welcoming their customers into “The Happiest Place On Earth”.

And, of course, they are not alone. Look at Apple, Google and Whole Foods as obvious examples.

When you walk into an Apple store, it’s like you left your old world behind. Google, with Panda and every other update, hammers advertisers who provide their visitors with anything but an optimal experience. Whole Foods left old paradigm grocers in the dust by delivering an experience that resonates with today’s shoppers.

In my area, the Colorado Chapter of Glazer-Kennedy Inner Circle comes to mind as delivering a reliably outstanding experience. In fact, chapter president Mike Searls named it with this in mind – “The Entrepreneur Experience” – and they bring it home, time and again.

So how can we sharpen our ability to consistently deliver an experience for clients that sets our business apart?

Here’s a simple 8-Step Formula, based on research and my experience working with companies in a variety of industries, from construction services to entertainment to health insurance:

  1. Establish a Knowledge Base including A) Information about your company that your customer needs to know and B) Information about your customers that you and your employees need to know.
  2. Empower Your Customers – Let them provide feedback and direction
  3. Allow them to participate with you in the channel of their choice; in-person, phone, email, social media, etc.
  4. Design and deliver a seamless experience – from start to finish of transaction and through continual follow-up and ascension
  5. Listen To Your Customers – Discover what your customers are thinking and act on it.
  6. Engage Customers Proactively – with personal and relevant interactions.
  7. Tell your story – what is it as it relates to them? How can you weave it throughout the experience you deliver?
  8. Measure And Improve Continuously
  9. And finally, Love Your Enterprise – Walt Disney said, “Disneyland is a work of love. We didn’t go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money.”

Innovation in customer experience is the key to thriving in and dominating your niche. I won’t B.S. you – the ugly truth is, it takes effort. But considering the alternatives – stagnation and cuthroat competition on price – isn’t it worth doing?

Best of success,
– Mike


“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world”. ~ Walt Disney