At last, after months of planning and hours of travelling from Johannesburg to Los Angeles, I finally arrived at the Disney Customer Experience Summit 2018.
Arriving at the Disney Grand Californian Hotel in Anaheim, California was everything and more the marketing collateral promised it would be! From the characters in costume who met me in the car park as though I was their only guest that day, through to the friendly check-in staff who proudly welcome you to the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’. The atmosphere is magical and the excitement of being in Disneyland is palpable.
Arriving at the CX Summit registration desk no different. Participants from 15 countries around the world were personally welcomed to the CX Summit by a Member of the Disney Institute and handed a CX Summit workbook, a complimentary copy of the Disney book ‘Be Our Guest’ and a personalised CX Summit badge that would provide VIP access to all events, fields experiences and Disney Parks.
The Customer Experience summit has been designed to share the now infamous Disney philosophies, values and strategies that have made them one of the most admired companies in the world.
The 3 three key elements of the summit would focus on Leadership, Engagement and Service.
The first CX Summit session focused on the Leadership philosophies embraced by Disney, which have contributed to them achieving and sustaining such great success. Here are some highlights:-
Disney leadership are incredibly intentional about the way they approach leadership. They refer to it as “values-infused leadership” which is a consistent demonstration of the Disney values by every leader, all the time. Leaders are required to establish, operationalize and sustain the values and vision by which the organisation operates. Every leader is required to continuously challenge themselves by asking “Am I living my values as a leader? Are we living our values as a company? Leaders set strategy and make credible brand promises to the market and are then required to align the organisation around the strategy, which focuses on their common values (values speak to who they are) and a compelling vision (vision speaks to where they are going).
Disney carefully design a culture that creates an environment in which every employee has the opportunity to be fully engaged and successful throughout their career. A major part of Disney’s success has been their ability to consolidate goals under one simple, yet meaningful ‘Purpose Statement’ that over 100,000 employees worldwide both understand and live by, and that is ‘We create happiness for everyone everywhere’.
Disney leadership continuously ask themselves:-
The Disney continuous improvement plan known as the ‘Disney Institute Chain of Excellence’ strategically focuses the company on 4 key elements:-
Disney leadership believe that simply creating a vision is not enough; leaders are responsible for communicating it with passion and conviction throughout the entire organisation, to ensure that every person fully understands it and buys into it.
Disney leaders spend very little time in offices and meetings, in fact they are required to spend over 70% of their time in operations; being “in” the business; looking after cast members (employees) and customer needs is their absolute priority. With leadership focus like this, it is no wonder that Disney continuously manage to share their magic with millions of visitors a year.