Q&A: Disney Destinations on How to Create "Magical (Customer) Experiences"

Shawn Siegel

Known globally for its customer experience excellence, Disney Destinations will be hosting Call Center IQ's Call Center Executive Leadership Forum in Orlando on July 26.

In advance of that unprecedented leadership day, Bob Simmonds, Disney Destinations' vice president of domestic travel operations, answered questions related to creating a "magical" experience in today's era of customer management. Simmonds will be presenting at the July 26 event.

Does being under the Disney umbrella add any extra challenges to how you handle customer experience?
Our Guests have very high expectations of the Disney experience. That helps us because the Guest is generally very excited to call us, but it also sets the bar very high and we take our responsibility very seriously as the longest (and typically first) experience a Guest has with a Disney Cast Member.


What is one way the Disney Destinations call center is different from the average one?
We use "creating Magical experiences" or "Surprise and Delight" on all Guest interactions and reward our Cast by exceeding expectations in that regard.

Call centers are often inundated with metrics and data. How do you decide which numbers are worthy of focus?
We recognize we are the most measured place within Disney. Even our Industrial Engineers tell us that. We try to limit the most important ones to the few that drive the Guest experience and relationship. Sales/Revenue is important, but those are driven through Guest and Cast satisfaction.

How have new technologies such as social media and texting impacted your call center?
Social Media is just beginning to enter the picture and text messaging is on the horizon, but we are focusing more on supporting some of the new technologies being introduced in our Parks & Resorts called the New Generation Experience. We have added a new department with over 150 Cast Members in the contact center to support that initiative.

Do you think the call center of tomorrow will be substantially different than it is today?
Not substantially different, as the role should be creating and maintaining the Guest relationship. We will just be using different tools.

Lastly, if there are any pearls of wisdom you could share with the executives joining us at the Executive Leadership Forum, what would it be?
If you take care of the needs of your Cast (contact center agents) they will take care of your Guests (Customers). Your Guest experience will differentiate your business as much as your product offering. If you push your Guests too much to a self-serve model, I welcome you as a competitor. You must be where the Guest wants you to be when they want you to be there. You must "Own the Moment."