toddler walking at Disney World with Mickey Mouse ears on
MagicBands are giving Disney World attendees more magic — and digitally fueled experiences. PHOTO: Ali Plonchak

Have you been to Walt Disney World lately?

If so then you're familiar with Disney’s MagicBand. For the unacquainted reading this — no, it is not a new toy or brand from a Disney movie.

It is a wearable device that unlocks your hotel room, pays for rides and refreshments, allows the person wearing it to enter theme parks without fumbling for a ticket and, to boot, it connects Disney PhotoPass to the customer account.

Simplify the Experience

The moms and dads out there have surely already grasped the implications: the MagicBand means you get to carry a smaller bag. It means you can ring up purchases of food or toys with a flick of the wrist — all the while wrangling cranky and tired children with the other hand.

It means you are able to quickly usher said cranky and tired children through the line much faster, especially when they see you are not buying that $65 stuffed Goofy toy.

Or, if you do buy said stuffed Goofy, the MagicBand means you don’t have to think about the bill until later (which is probably more of a perk for Disney than mom and dad). It’s just a quick blip — a quick wave over the sensor — and the purchase is made.

I daresay most Disney World attendees don’t think of the MagicBand when they remember their trip, except perhaps as a curiosity.

What they do remember is how easy the lines were to navigate, how easy the kids were to handle and, courtesy of Disney PhotoPass, how much fun everyone had. Will they take another trip next year? Sure!

Or at least that is how it is supposed to go — and according to Keith LaFerriere, EVP and Chief Experience Officer with the Boston-based marketing technology company Verndale, that is how it is going for Disney, which implemented the technology a few years ago.

LaFerriere described Disney’s complex implementation project in a presentation he made at Episerver’s recent Ascend conference.

Universal Themes

LaFerriere kept the technical details about the implementation to a minimum.

But even without the details as to what technology was used and how Ascend’s conference themes were constants in LaFerriere's presentation. It’s all about the customer’s digital experience. The necessity of a unified platform. Ditto a robust partner and developer network.

All of these elements come into play, Mark Duffell, president and CEO said at Ascend, to build products and capabilities “that meet the need for organizations to deliver powerful and seamless digital experiences, fast.”

So. Good for Disney, good for Episerver and its users, and good for Verndale and LaFerriere, while we are at it.

Can You Replicate the MagicBand Experience?

But what about you? Can you offer your customers the kind of digital experience and customer journey that Disney does with its MagicBand?

Chances are the answer is no, and that is not because you cannot afford to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a comprehensive system. (Rumor has it the MagicBand cost $1 billion to implement).

Rather, it is the little details that are probably tripping you — details that Disney, with its mania for customer experience perfection, has been on top of since day one. Or, it could be the larger concepts that you failed to take into account, even as you pay lip service to them. Or, it could be a combination of both of these factors.

Whatever the root cause, following are some reasons why your customers may be dropping out of their journey with you.

You didn’t really understand your audience in the first place. You need to know who you are talking to and what technology they are prepared to touch, says LaFerriere. Some seniors, for example, may not be interested in wearing a wristband — for them, a digital card is better suited because it looks more like a credit card.

You did understand your audience but you failed to ensure that all of the other teams had that understanding. “One problem I see is that people don’t use the data they collect on their market the right way. The result: taking that data and the surveys and encapsulating the findings in a report is the most important piece so that every department from technology to finance to marketing can understand it," LaFerriere said.

You didn’t personalize everything. “If you do not personalize the customer journey the entire way from start to after purchase, then you will not have a repeat customer,” LaFerriere said. “Once someone decides to buy from you then they need to be taken care of for the rest of their lives and that includes after-service.”

Your customer journey map is too long. Don’t go beyond ten months in the planning stages, LaFerriere said. “And once you are live, keep the window to six to 12 months. Customers and markets change after that.”

You didn’t take mobile into account. Most companies know mobile is a major, if not the major, way consumers access the Internet but not enough will prepare content so it renders on a mobile device. Or to be precise — so it renders on all mobile devices. Content that looks good on the Firefox mobile browser running on iOS 7 may look crowded the iOS 6. And so on.

You are egomaniacal. Or, you don’t think you should explain yourself or your product. “You don’t want your customer to buy a product from you and then have to search out someone else’s forum or YouTube channel to figure out how it works,” LaFerriere said.

You are myopic. Your content resides in too many silos. Users have to click, click and reload just to get a comprehensive answer to a question.

Your content or processes are yawn-inducing. Enough said.

You are not making an emotional connection. This one is tricky because companies tend to assume the emotion is a good one. Oftentimes, though, it is not, LaFerriere said. “Studies have shown that car buyers always get depressed after they have made a purchase, especially if financing is involved,” he explained. “They probably had to compromise on the car they bought versus the one they wanted and once they see the financial terms they are having severe buyer’s remorse. That is precisely when you need to reconnect with the customer — even though the purchase is made — to make him feel better, LaFerriere said.

So send them an email congratulating the buyer on his new car purchase and add information that validates his choice, LaFerriere advised — such as that this particular vehicle holds its value longer than any other etc. And of course, celebrates the successes too.

How to Succeed

The aforementioned are the reasons why a customer journey is bound to fail.

But companies would do well to follow Disney’s particular North Star: You see, Disney didn’t just create an amazing experience that was immersive and cut across every single channel, LaFerriere said. “What it did was create a different experience of attending a theme park.”