What Disney World Can Teach Us About An Excellent Customer Experience
Disney is able to charge more than all its competition but they still attract more visitors than any other theme park. How do they do it? It certainly isn't by giving their patrons an average experience. Disney is amazing at focusing on each of the guests personally and knowing what they want and how to make them happy. We can learn quite a few things from the Disney Experience that will enable us to deliver the same quality of experience to our clients.
What is it that Disney does at its theme parks that makes them such a great place to visit? And why do millions of people pay the higher Disney price every year instead of going somewhere cheaper? Let's visit a few of the things Disney is doing and relate them to your real estate business.
First off, Disney World gives a personalized experience to each of its guests. Disney works very hard at this and gives special training to its "cast members" (employees) so each of them gives the same experience. Guests are often greeted by name, they are wished a happy birthday or happy anniversary if they are celebrating it at the park. Every aspect of your vacation is customized to fit your wants, needs, and time table. Disney doesn't try to force you into a one-size-fits-all experience. Michael Hinshaw, Managing Director of MCorp Consulting explains, “In the age of smart customers, personalization is the future of experience. Mass production and consumption of news, entertainment, products, and services have already lost the battle, giving way to personalization and customization.”
You can give the same personalized experience to your clients and potential clients. The easiest thing to start doing is to call people by their name, even in your printed material. Never give a client or a potential client something that says "Dear Homeowner." Even if you send out a monthly or quarterly newsletter, there are plenty of ways to parse out names from a spreadsheet so you make it just a little more personal. The next easiest thing to do is to send them birthday card every year. If you are currently working with a buyer or seller and they get a card from you, they will be blown away by that small personal touch. Little details make a big difference.
Next up, Disney offers you things you won't find at any other theme park. Not only do they have 4 parks to choose from at Disney World, each park contains a full variety of restaurants, events, activities, shows, and rides. I'm a big fan of thrill rides and sadly, Disney doesn't do a great job in the thrills department. But, what they lack in ride quality (my opinion of ride quality), they more than make up for in other areas. The themed restaurants are great. The fireworks shows are great (I heard that Disney is the second largest purchaser of explosives, right behind the US Military). The light shows are great. I don't need to go on a single ride at Disney to feel like I got my money's worth.
Offer your clients a full range of services and have something they aren't going to get anywhere else. Figure out what makes you unique or think up something you want to start doing for each of your clients that other agents aren't doing. This has to go beyond a slick listing presentation or a free market analysis. Much of the time this will come down to the experience you deliver to your clients (we just talked about this). But make sure to point out a few things that are unique to you. There is an agent who has professional photos shot of all his listings regardless of price. I shot a 900sq/ft, 2 bed 1 bath home for him not too long ago that was selling for a mere $130k (this is in stark contrast to another agent who turned me down for a $600k listing and opted to use his cell phone instead). This marketing strategy across all price ranges is something most agents don't offer. Another agent prides herself on being a community expert. She knows so much about many neighborhoods and towns and is able to help her clients ease into their new life. If she doesn't know anything about a town, she'll learn! This helps her stand out as her client's "real estate best friend." Find out what other agents aren't doing, and do that. Then integrate it into your brand.
Be more than just a slick haircut.
Also, make sure your potential clients know everything about all the services you offer. I heard of an agent who lost a sale because he didn't mention he includes video tours (even though he does). The home owner went with another agent who specified a video tour in his marketing plan. Most importantly, you should demo all your features, if possible. If you do virtual tours, show them a current or previous one. Show them your previous listings so they can see your professional photography and marketing. Show them the video walk throughs, the flyers, the listing websites. Put the experience in their hands and say "This is what you get when you hire me to sell your house." This goes a looooong way towards winning a listing over a different agent who just says, "Virtual tours? Uh...sure. I can do those."
Disney doe s great at engaging customers through multiple facets. They provide many ways to connect to "the magic" of Disney. I think the most used way is through the Disney My Experience app. Through this app you can book restaurant reservations, check wait times, pull up park maps, schedule your fast passes, and much, much more. This is a great way for their customers to stay engaged in their vacation and it is a slick presentation on Disney's side.
Disney also provides other ways to have a more full experience through character meet-n-greet restaurants where you can sit down and enjoy some awesome food and get pictures and autographs from various characters. We did a character breakfast this time and both my boys loved meeting Pooh Bear and Tigger (and I loved the great breakfast buffet). For your little princess, Disney has a Bibbity Bobbity Boutique where they can be transformed into a princess for the day, complete with pixie dust. My niece did this a couple years ago and she loved it. Another great example is each of their resorts are themed differently and you can explore them (even without staying at the resort). We visited the Art of Animation resort and wandered around a mini Radiator Springs (from the movie Cars) and my boys loved seeing the characters and being able to play in the area.
As an agent, think of ways you can engage your clients on multiple fronts to keep them interested, engaged, and potentially open up opportunities for referrals. Many things that we have already mentioned will work: sending birthday cards, bringing the children into the discussion, having a full and complete (and maybe even over-the-top) marketing strategy that will really wow them. When you are showing them that you are attacking their listing from all angles, you will be more memorable than the agent who just lists on the MLS and prays for the phone to ring. And about that mobile app we discussed earlier...you don't need to hire your own team of app developers to create mobile listings apps because I've already done that for you. I'm working with a team who creates several different kinds of mobile responsive portfolios to showcase you and your listings. Show this to your next lead and you'll be sure to catch their attention.
Bring the family together, when possible.
Next, Disney is family oriented. Disney does a great job at making sure dad, mom, and all the kids, ages 1-17, are happy. They make sure that there are plenty of things to do for each member of the family. Let's consider Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. This is fun for everyone, and I love this ride (even though it's not a thrill ride). If you are unfamiliar with it, you sit in a cart on a track and you have a laser gun. You go through this ride shooting at different targets to score points. At the end of the ride you see a scoreboard of everyone's points. Why I love this ride: I like the challenge of hitting the targets while the cart is spinning around. Why my 3 year old son likes this ride: he loves Buzz Lightyear, the cool lights and sounds, and spinning around. He could care less about the laser guns.
Most importantly, Disney works hard to make sure the entire vacation is a family experience. It is more fun to spend time and build memories as a family than to send mom and dad over here, and brother and sister over here. We can share in the memories of all the stuff we've done together. This is a great way to think of a real estate experience: involve the whole family (again, when possible). I know that mom and dad are the ones putting up the cash, and ultimately, their opinion is really the only one that matters. However, if you make yourself a friend of the family and not just "mom and dad's real estate agent" you'll score points with the kids as well as the parents. Get to know the kids, if possible. Ask the kids their opinions on things to make them feel part of the process (what kinds of parks do they like to play at, what restaurants do they like, do they like mini golf or go-karts, etc).
Bring attention to selling features of a home or neighborhood that the entire family will like. If there are walking trails or fishing ponds nearby, mention it. If there is a skate park within walking distance, bring it up. If there is a great mini golf place or a Boondocks-type establishment, be sure to tell them. If there is a cool hidden play room, point that out. You can even go the extra mile by buying Girl Scout cookies from the daughter or offering to help with the Eagle Scout project of the son (also a great way to make new contacts with their family and friends). Involve the interests of the entire family and you'll come across as an agent who truly cares, not just a "numbers agent," only interested in a quick sale.
If you are dealing with couples with no kids, this advice still applies. Make sure to involve both the husband and wife. Many agents will say, "No duh." But I've heard of times when an agent only asks the husband's opinions and ignores the wife (or vice versa). Don't be that agent. And be sure to bring up things about a neighborhood they both will find interesting. Mention the proximity to these great bars, or talk about these jogging trails. Remember to sell the neighborhood, not just the house. This will help you stand out as the agent who is helpful, useful, and thoughtful.
Lastly, be well presented. Disney is clean. There is never any trash on the ground or gum stuck to the handrails. What you see in the brochures is what you get in real life. Don't show up to your listing presenting in a suit and tie only to revert to jeans and a t-shirt when you show them listings. You are representing a professional service and you brand will be impacted by how you present yourself during each interaction.
Ask yourself, "How can I create a WOW experience for my clients?" Disney is worried about their ROI just as much as you are. But Disney knows that by providing a better customer experience they drive up retention, referrals, and customer satisfaction. And in the end, they can charge MORE to provide a better experience. To close, I saw this quote just outside the Teacups Ride and thought it was very appropriate for this audience:
Keywords: disney, engagement, experience, marketing, real estate agent, salt lake city real estate photographer, world
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