Intro: Magical customer experiences don't happen by accident. They happen through careful planning and meticulous design. Kevin and Debbie have been engineering, extraordinary customer experiences for over 30 years. Join us as we explore corporate culture, branding, service, excellence, and much more through storytelling, technical curiosity, and friendly conversation. The Disney way for the digital age will be revealed.
[00:00:25] KK: Yeah. We have a theme song. Isn't that great!? Amazing. So, awesome. Good to see you again. Thanks for coming back. And hopefully our listeners they've come back, but I'm so glad you came back! That’s not guaranteed. Right?
[00:00:44] Debbie: Well, you know what I used to say when I’d release the guests for lunch and they'd come back after lunch. I'd say thank you for coming back from lunch. You always know how things are going. If no one comes back from lunch that's right. Especially delivering programs where they could sneak off to a theme park, right?
[00:01:01] KK: Oh that's right. Well, I remember having a breakfast and I said, associate that friend here that I still work with in long island. We had breakfast, a breakfast in animal kingdom. Yeah, one morning of Disney Institute and I can't remember. And Harambae, I think it was really cool. And if you are lucky, we came back. Cause I was definitely wanting to just hop on the train and go. stay in the park
[00:01:30] KK: Exactly. But I went back because the curriculum was so engaging, but welcome back. Um, so nice to, to, to be doing this with you again. So we promise folks that we would start to get into some nuts and bolts about how to honestly assess their culture.Um, we look at it. We've, we've Deb had talked about the, um, the three pillars that support great customer experience that, you know, you deliver once your culture's in place. So those three elements are brand culture and technology, and I'm kind of the, the brand guy in this, this group, um, you know, um, brand is the way that.
A name of a company and the service from the company and a logo of the company makes people feel right. That's that's brand, right. It stays with you. It's called brand like a brand. You put on a cow. It's like, because that sticks with you. If you've done it. Right, right. You, it sticks with you. So what, and, and, and we've.
We were always surprised that so many folks hadn't really talked about this more, but our belief is that culture and brand are inextricably combined. You, they just one supports the other. So, you know, and that that's really the crux of our book. Our book formerly was called the culture of brand, I think way, way back.
Yeah. That's brand. And I'm going to turn it over to Deb to talk about the second pillar of culture. Okay.
[00:02:52] Debbie: So we talked a lot. We just kind of popped in with that word culture. And it's surprising to me how often I work with even large companies. And when I'm speaking with executives, I will ask them to describe their corporate culture to me.
And they don't really have a clear idea of what. The phrase means, but it's not as complex as it sounds. It, you know, the simplest definition of culture is all of the elements that simply describe or drive how you get business done in your organization. So the things, just some examples of the things that make up a culture are.
How do you promote people into leadership? How do you choose leaders? How do you hire leaders? Um, how do you train them? How do they treat your employees? And what do you accept about how they treat your employees? Are they respectful and considerate or is it the, my way or the highway? Oh attitude. It is about the employees themselves.
How do you recruit and hire right fit? How do you train them, give them what they need so that they can deliver an exceptional experience. It's about your description of the customer experience and how you're going to make that happen. It's about how you decide what your policies and procedures are within the organization.
Right? That's all. If you have them. Exactly. I mean, it's all part of, of your culture. And there are many, many more examples and every company of course is a little different, but that is the simple definition of culture. So, I mean, Kevin has a great example that is actually been recently in the news and this.
Very specifically relate to culture. So, um, Kevin, I'm going to tell that story because it's a great example.
[00:04:48] KK: Well, you know, there's so much consolidation going on in the world, especially in media and technology. So, you know, very recently I'm discovering Warner got together and somehow, and discovery is the, the, um, the, the leading entity in that.
Interesting. And I won't share the, the creative, uh, ways that folks have expressed their opinion about that. But there's some great articles if you'd like to read on read about it, but, um, yeah, a huge company there's companies both in their own right. Gigantic companies, but Warner kind of back, we asked for one reason or another and said, you know, the Disney leadership or the discovery leadership's going to take over.
And I have the, uh, the, the insight of having a daughter that works over there and, uh, It's been a challenge, right? So, um, uh, yes, these things are challenging. I've been through one or two myself, and I've actually advised other companies on how to make these work. But if you don't pay attention to culture and make decisions on what the right culture for the future of your company is, as you're going through this, you will have issues.
So hot topic for everybody returned to office, right. Will I ever return off as do I want to return to office? No, by the way, Um, I want to see people, I want to see, I want to get together with purpose, but I don't need to commute, you know, 10 times a week is which what I used to get, I say, hop on the train from long island and get into Manhattan and, uh, love Manhattan, but I don't miss that commute.
So they decided, um, um, my daughter had been with, uh, with Warner, uh, for a long time and, uh, pardon me, but as Debbie said, We're not going to sugarcoat anything, you know? So, um, we're going to tell you, like, it is at least as we see it. Um, yeah. So, you know, Warner, or as many big companies have been, they've been kicking that can down the road.
Well, when you coming back, oh, just keep doing what you're doing. And we'll talk about it in four months, you know, two years later, that's still kind of the status quo, but honestly, no, one's come up with no, one's come up with the perfect answer. So. Discovery, uh, you know, the merger happens. Discovery gets a town hall.
It gets on everybody on a town hall and says we're returning to work June 1st, come on back to the office three days as week. And then the awkward pause and people are like, uh, is there a plan? Like I had a desk there two years ago and honestly, I'm not even in that department. I'm not even sure if I'm on that floor in my new department.
Right. Um, I've got kids. And for me to get childcare, I need to pay for five days childcare. Right. And what about you? No money doing this three. How am I going to offset the, you offer childcare? again, long pause. No, no plan. Um, there's going to be layoffs. Okay. Are you, you know, so. I'm going to move in the city and take on a, you know, probably 24, $26,000 a year lease.
Right. I am I going to do that? And you're gonna lay me off in two weeks, or is this your, your method? I honestly think that it was their method of vetting, uh, folks, you know? Alright, well, whoever's not up for it they can leave. And I, my first reaction was; you're using a single parameter to define who you want in your company, meaning I'll work onsite or I won't, that's just insane.
And there was that to me, there's no planning, right? No grand planning, but anyway, um, and long story short how does this tie back to culture that is just going to destroy the culture. So I know the folks that, and at Warner and, um, And I should say, I know some employees over at Warner and they're just scared to death that their culture is just going to crash and burn because it doesn't seem to be a plan.
The plan does not seem to be a people focused. Right come back because it's June 1st because we've got office space and I want you here. Terrible reason. Right? Look, it's hard. It's not, there's no easy answer. I don't say there's a right way or wrong way. I think it's innovation happens when people are together, for sure.
You know, accidental innovation, especially, which is some of the best kind of innovation. So that's my kind of topical story about, um, how, if you don't watch culture, it just happens. It can really take a dive without you really realizing it's happening.
[00:08:59] Debbie:And you know, in that kind of, uh, edict is in my mind.I, if I see it. A clear representation of the culture. So there's two cultures now that have come together, and this is one of the toughest things to do. And I've helped organizations to do this too, who have taken on another company, absorbed another company, merged with another company and then to take two cultures and make them one.
But the message that they're sending very clearly to the employees is we have a culture now of. Um, That does not. Or we have a culture now that does not engage our employees, that executives are making decisions. They're not thinking things through, they're not considering the impact to the employee and may or may not care. So that represents a certain kind of culture, not necessarily a good culture, but it's still a culture. I mean, culture comes in many different disguises and some are good and some are not good. And, um, so it very dramatically represents a culture of that organization. So it may not be very positive and, and they'll lose, potentially lose good people over it
[00:10:22] KK: . Oh, there, the prediction is they'll lose 20% to 25%. And I think that's, and the sad thing is they're not going to lose folks that didn't like the company, you know?
Oh no. That never happened.
My daughter loves working with, she loves the company, loves the work. She loves the people, but if she's forced to leave, it'll be because she doesn't want to commute and she doesn't want. You know, $2,000 a month for at lease. So, you know, that that's just a great example of lack of planning. Everything should be designed. Everything in your business should have a design plan. You know, people think of design. I love that word. Um, you know, we, we call ourselves cultural engineers sometimes because, you know, engineers design things, right? So we help people design what the optimal culture is. To deliver on a brand experience to retain people and to gain and retain customers.
So I want to come back cause I want to get to technology or a third pillar, but I'm going to come back to you. You talked a little bit about, um, uh, asking the employees what they think, which is something that didn't go on for a lot of years, but there's a couple of great stories.
You still, you told that the Institute, but anyway, third pillar is technology, right? So. It is not new, but it seems new to many companies. I just talked to somebody that said, they're working at a. This guy just got a job at a company and they have everything on paper. And I think you've seen these at, at maybe contractors and doctor's offices with those masses and masses of colored tab folders. You're not serving anybody well by overlooking technology, right? It's like, you know, let's use the doctor example. You could, you know, if, if your information's online, like the greatest experience I had recently is when I worked, I went to the doctor that was in a consolidated group that shared records. I didn't have to like, oh, did you have an x-ray? And can you ask him that? No, it's right in the Portal! So this idea that technology can enhance your brand, save you tons of money and deliver a much more rewarding experience for your team. Right? Who wants to go sorting through papers when they could kick control F find what they need and move on with doing something more substantive. Right. So, um, the Disney example I gave is, you know, well, you used to have somebody standing on Main Street with a map and they would go, you know, oh, uh, and the showtimes. And that was printed in the morning. And if something changed, they was still printed the way it was printed. Right. So somebody comes up and says, you know what time is the, the, you know, or my favorite? “What time is the three o'clock parade?” Um, but anyway, you can't, you can't say, Hey, stupid, it's three, o'clock you say, oh, you know, you show up about 2:30 to get a spot. And if you sit in front of the, the barbershop, they have the air conditioning blasting and get a nice cold blast of air. That's a good answer. I’ve digressed. The person could be standing on main street with an iPad and they can say, you know what, there's, there's a, there was a reservation system now and it's, uh, I can get you a spot right here and I'm going to book you right now. And, um, they're probably running about 15 minutes late, but if you show up and you're booked. Right. So the idea of using technology to enhance your guest experience, your customer experience is not something new, but it is something that is still sorely overlooked. And there's so many creative ways, uh, you know, take it to the nth degree. Uh, like we do with the brands, like Hard Rock and, you know, we've got a, uh, personified chatbot that is you know, personified as a 30 year old tattooed girl who knows the best place to get a burger and the password for the speakeasy down the street. So, you know, there's so much creativity that you can do when it comes to the new technology when running your business.
[00:14:03] Debbie: And if I could just jump in and say, there's so much technology, and I think I barely touched on it the first Ep. I think it's very, very important as part of your brand identity with your, your guests is to understand how much technology you really need. Uh, and Disney's gone way out on the technology piece. Is it good? Is it not good? Is it too difficult? Uh, you know, I don't know. I think the, the answer remains to be seen. Does it exclude some groups of people or not? I, you know, it's, it's, uh, I, I think it's a question to be answered after a little more time. Um, but, but that's an important piece because things that make customers unhappy erodes your brand. So if technology makes them happy, oh my gosh, this is great. It's so much quicker and easier now to do this with you, people, it will enhance your bread. Oh my gosh, you've made this so much more difficult. I can't get into do anything with you people will that erode your brand. So I think so there's a lot of really fine lines to consider here.
[00:15:14] KK: And you mentioned, uh, you know, this is for another episode, but the idea that, you know, we both kind of feel that Disney's in danger of becoming an elite brand, right. We're not for, and I think you've definitely said it better, maybe that I can't remember, but Walt said, you know, I want this, I want this to be for everybody. I want everybody to enter. That is certainly not the experience. So, you know, that's something we'll certainly talk about down the road. Right. So you gotta monitor tour audience, always having acute awareness of who your audience is. Um, you know, what emotions you want them to experience and how to, you know, figure out how to make them happy and loyal customers for life.
So, but back to turning inward and 6 questions to honestly assess your culture, right? So now we're getting into some meat, meat, and potatoes, and we're going to put this, uh, you know, anything you hear like this is going to be up on our website, um, www.disneywaydigital.com. So, um, go ahead Deb, take it away.
[00:16:08] Debbie: So we want to get to give you some start giving you some structure. And this is there's really quite a lot to this. I'll try to give a couple of quick examples, but there are six basic questions. You know, if you remember correctly, when we finished up with the first episode, we said, the very best companies assess their culture regularly. Well, how do you do that? Not everybody understands. You know, how, how in the world do I assess my culture? Were there six key questions that you can ask yourselves.. better yet.. do it with a group of people. I am a big fan of asking certain questions with some employees in the room. Some, some supervisors in the room, some managers,executives in the room so that you get the true scope of, of the answers for these questions.
So the first one, the first one is who are we today? You know who our core customers, how do we deliver? Uh, if you're Disney, you would say, how do we deliver on the magic today? How do we hire leaders? How do we hold them accountable? I mean, all those. Who are we today really pick apart how it is that you do business and ask yourself um You know, how do we do this? But after you've identified who you are and what those elements of your culture look like, you have to ask yourself, what's working right now? And the second question is what's not working or what are we missing? So if you clearly outline; well, who are we today? You list as many cultural elements as you can think of, uh, is our hiring process working? Is there a vetting process working? Is there a training process working? If not, you put it over to the side under ‘not working’. And you can create a plan on how to, how to address that. Um, what will it take to move us forward? So once you figure out what's working and what's not working, are there new elements you need to put in place? Are there things you need to stop doing? And, and how do you get those answers. Do you ask employees? Do you ask your managers and your supervisors? So what will it take to move you forward? You might even ask your customers. You might do round tables with customers. Hey, is there anything we're doing is frustrating the daylights out of you or might make you leave. Right? I have done that all day. I've done that where I've done work with companies where I have. Um, held round tables or interview sessions with their customers and said, is there anything that's got you on the brink of leaving the effective from this company? If you don't ask the tough questions, you don't get the right answers. Absolutely! Right. Do we understand our core customers, the demographics, their physical, and their emotional needs? This kinda ties back to what Kevin and I were just talking about. Um, has Disney put themselves in a position with all of this technology and requiring reservations that I, and it's, it's not an easy process to plow through…have they put themselves in a position where only certain people can make this work for them and, and make it work? Um, and they've always been very good about this. So I have no doubt they'll do it eventually, is asked the customers um, is it working? Is it not working and identify who today are our core customers so that you can be sure you've got the processes in place to take care of them. And where does technology fit with your culture? And this kind of, we said this a couple of times, how much technology, what kind of technology, if you're a small company and I I've worked with a lot of small companies. Chatbots a really great chat bot might be all you need for right now where customer can for simple questions can get the answers quickly and move on, but it gives them the option to talk to a live person if they need to. That might be all the, all that they need. It might be an enhanced website. So what. Where does technology fit in with your culture? How does it fit into your culture? How does it fit into delivering an exceptional experience to your customer? So you really have to identify what that level of technology, uh, looks like.
[00:20:37] KK: Yeah. Yeah. I'm going to jump in and let's, let's introduce the idea of internal/external customer. Cause you said delivering exceptional experience to your customer. Now often talk about the concept of internal customer and external customer. Obviously our external customers are the customers we typically think about right. And that's easy, but the idea of this internal customer is the different stakeholders within your company, right? Your employees, your managers, your executives, um, and you know, an example. So I came from the agency world and I was recently at an agency conference and, uh, Technology can be tough. So I had heard two or three stories about, um, tech technology migration for their, uh, agency management systems. So disruptive, so difficult, but, and, and, and that's something you have to take into consideration for your internal customers. It's going to be frustrating as hell for your, for your employees. And for you managers and in this case, you're your accounting department because this new system integrates timecards and accounting and. But you've, if you've carefully thought this through on the other side of this, um, which hopefully is, you know, a couple of months at most, sometimes you see this rollout in six months, um, everything you're delivering a much better experience for your internal customers. Everyone internally, um, can work more efficiently, uh, much more optimized and thus now you're, you have an opportunity to deliver a better experience for your external customers. So just wanted to throw that in there, and that concept will come up more than once for sure.
[00:22:18] Debbie: I think that is, that's a great concept and I could give a real quick example many years ago Disney was was actually putting some technology in place to assist the cast members with getting internal information that they needed. So for example, if they needed to know how many vacation hours do I have for the rest of the year, do I have left for the rest of the year? I want to plan to bring my family into the park. Are there any blackout dates? You know, I want to make those plans. They would go to the personnel office in their area and stand in line and that person would pull out paper copies and say okay. Here's how many vacation hours you have left. So Disney put technology in place that the Disney, they cast member portals, if you will. And. Surprisingly, the company was very surprised by this. After speaking to many, many cast members and putting it out on surveys, they discovered that a lot of cast members- now you're talking back in those days, there was probably 55,000 plus it's closer to 70 plus now, um, they. A lot of the cast members did not have computers at home, or if they had computers, they couldn't afford internet service so they didn't have internet or didn't understand internet. Uh, so what they did was in, in backstage areas, in every single area in the, in the tunnels, and the backstage areas of all the hotels, backstage areas about theme parks, they put kiosks up where a cast member could go there and in complete privacy with their own portal ID sign in and could look up all the information that they needed quickly and easily. And those at home with computers and internet service of course could do it at their leisure at home. And the cast members loved it because they were, they when you're on lunch and you're standing in line at personnel office trying to get information, you may not get time to eat before you have to go back. Right. So it was a great example of how they use technology in all the right ways, but have to discover what was going to work best for the cast members as well.
[00:24:36] KK: Well, that's a great example. If we circle back to how you started about Disney, uh, integrating technology today and access, right? So you have to consider access. Is this something your audience has access to at that time, the internal customer you're saying not everybody. So they came up with a solution, right? They, they recognize the problem and they said let's come up with a solution. And that's, that's one of our favorite things. Right. Great challenges. Come on. Tell us, give us a problem, we’ll figure it out! Honestly, that is one of the things that still gets me out of bed every day is helping, helping businesses answer those big questions, which is sometimes, you know, uh, little challenges that can have big consequences so.
And here we are, again. So quickly at the end of our second episode. So much more to talk about. Um, and you know, like I said, you can go to, uh, www.disneywaydigital.com. We'll post these questions and we'll eventually start getting some, uh, some, some worksheets and things that you could do on your own. But, um, the last thing I'll leave you with is,
You know, the funniest thing that happens. And I think it happens almost every time. So. First part of our process is we'll go in with the executive team and talk about these questions yet. Who are, who are we today? Right. You know. Around the table, invariably, you've got like five or six different answers. We're a sales organization. Now we're product development. We're about delivering a great customer experience, you know, there. So our first things usually getting leadership aligned.
[00:26:11] Debbie: Absolutely! Not only getting leadership aligned, but getting them on board with the concept of the possibility that they may have to make some change. Especially executive leadership. You know, if it doesn't happen then it’s not going to happen. You know what I mean? “We’ve always done it that way. Yes. Yeah.
[00:26:28] Debbie: I'm too busy. I haven't got time for this. Uh, we've never had to do it this way before. Uh, you know, we've heard it all.
[00:26:35] KK: Well more on that next episode. We hope you all tune in. Deb I hope you show up. I'm probably going to show up so well, thanks everyone. We will see you next time. And like we said, you can get all our information. You can reach out. We'd love to hear from you. So go to www.disneywaydigital.com and we look forward to hearing from you. See you next time.
[00:26:57] Debbie: Thank you!
[00:26:59] Outro: You've been listening to the Disney Way for the Digital age!
Our producer and engineer is Steven Byrom. Show coordinator is Taranpreet Trehan. And voiceover by Cindy Clifford. Kevin and Debbie can be reached for free advice or paid consulting at [email protected] or [email protected]. A new episode is released each Tuesday morning. We hope you continue to listen!
To leave or reply to comments, please download free Podbean or
To leave or reply to comments, please download free Podbean App.