My wife, Debbie, and I recently returned from our annual vacation to Walt Disney World. As many readers already know, we are self-proclaimed “Disney Geeks” and have made Disney World our only vacation destination. We’ve returned to the “House of Mouse” well over 45 times over the past three decades.
There are so many things about the guest experience Disney delivers that we enjoy, amazing things that keep us coming back for more and that I’ve written about in the past. But, one of our favorite experiences are the live, staged performances.
It was during our most recent visit, I started thinking about what business owners and their teams can learn from Disney’s dedicated cast members who are committed to delighting audiences with each and every one of their performances. What I discovered is that your business shares much in common with a live, well-rehearsed stage performance and can benefit greatly by treating every customer interaction with the same dedication to delight as a Disney performer.
Whether they’re on a big stage, a small stage or a pop-up “street” performance, the live shows always feature Disney’s best, most amazing and talented cast members who are singers, dancers, musicians, actors, etc.
The Festival Of The Lion King, A Broadway Caliber Performance.
Our absolute favorite live performance is Festival of The Lion King and it is performed in the round inside a 1500 seat theater at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Festival of The Lion King is a 30-minute, Broadway-style show filled with songs, pageantry, acrobats and puppetry celebrating Disney’s classic movie, The Lion King.
The caliber of cast performance in Festival of The Lion King makes it a show that you’ll want to see again and again and again. It’s that good. But, it’s also just one of a half dozen or so live, big stage performances spread out through the four theme parks at Walt Disney World.
A quick check if the time schedules for the parks indicates that there are more than a dozen small stage or street performances that also take place throughout the day, every day, as well. Some are interactive. Some are not. But all are highly entertaining.
Flying off to Marrakesh with Matboukha Groove.
On about the third day of our recent vacation, I came across a performance by a band called Matboukha Groove outside the Morocco pavilion within the World Showcase at Disney’s Epcot Theme Park.
The band features four musicians; two were violinists, one played the guitar and the fourth was the percussionist and lead vocalist who stepped off the stage to interact with the small audience of guests who had stopped to gather around their small stage. Even in the uncomfortable Florida heat and humidity, these performers and their performances didn’t miss a beat (pun intended) when it came to delivering a fun, engaging, interactive and memorable performance.
I enjoyed the Matboukha Groove performance so much; I went back to see them perform two more times that same day and a couple more times a few days later. Each performance was as high-energy and entertaining, if not more, than the one I had enjoyed before. And, with each performance, the band looked even more happy to be sharing their talents than the time before.
While enjoying their performance, I noticed the number of shows a performing, Disney cast member performs in every day. As I studied the time schedules of all four parks, I found that most shows, big and small, are performed seven to eight times a day. Those daily performances are usually performed by the same cast members. Many times, you’ll see those cast members performing in the same show over multiple days. That means, they may perform the same musical numbers, dance moves or acrobatic feats, or all of the above, a minimum of 40 times or more per 5-day work week.
Quality performances generate loyal, raving fans.
Yet, you’d be hard pressed to notice a difference in quality from performance to performance. Whether it’s a big production like Festival of the Lion King or a more intimate presentation like Matboukha Groove, the performers are always consistent in the delivery of a high-level performance that makes you want to see it again and again and tell others about it—much like I’ve been doing here.
What I find extremely fascinating is how those performers are able to stay upbeat and focused for each performance. They make it look so easy.
How do they do it?
I reached out to my friend, Dawn Marie Parks, who is both a street and stage performer at California Adventure and Disneyland. I asked her, “How do performers who often perform in one show, 7-8 times per day, sometimes 5 days per week, keep fresh? How do they avoid boredom and the monotony of repetition? How do they stay high energy?”
There’s gold in her response. “I think about the guests. Basically, all we do as cast members is for the guests. We owe it to our guests to give them our best performance every time. If there is ever a day I feel that I can’t perform to the best of my ability and in a manner that is worth the guests time, I make a decision to not work that day. That doesn’t happen very often. But, I’ve had a couple of days where I just had to takeoff work because I didn’t have the energy to perform properly. I guess you just have to know how to recharge your own tank between shows and know that you have to put it out there because it’s not about you, it’s about the guests.”
Another friend and performing cast member at Disneyland, Lauren Pritchard, says, “We remember that it’s always the first time the guest is seeing that show. We remember to always make each other look good and find the fun in everything we do because we create joy for the audience by playing together. As cast members, we only have 10 seconds to show an audience a good time and that 10 seconds means everything because first impressions are the most important.”
My new Instagram friend, the vocalist for Matboukha Groove, Archie Peña (@archiegroove), adds “We’re just hungry to entertain and make people happy. It’s what we do.”
Your customer interactions are very similar to the amazing, talented performances of cast members at Disney Theme Parks.
Whether you’re serving a long-time customer or a first timer, with every customer interaction your brand is on-stage. And, just like Disney’s performing cast members, you have only seconds to make a first and lasting impression. Do they feel valued and welcome? Or, do they feel that they are nothing more than a transaction?
Are you consistent in delivering a high-caliber customer experience from customer to customer that they just have to experience again and again while enthusiastically referring it to others? The goal of a dedicated performer is never to settle on an audience of one. The goal is to generate a base of loyal, raving fans who always pack the house. How does your business build that same level of loyal enthusiasm with your customers?
The absolute best stage and business performances are emotionally rewarding, as well. An engaging and memorable performance can make an audience, your customers, feel special, important and as though the experience they’re enjoying was created solely with them in mind. No one goes to the theater just to get a program and sit in a cushy velvet seat. They go for the experience of feeling engaged, connected to something bigger than themselves. For business owners, that “something” should be your brand. Here’s why that is so important.
Customers reward brands they’re connected to.
According to a survey conducted by FierceRetail.com, “82% of consumers always buy from a brand they have a high emotional engagement with. And for those brands they know and love, consumers are willing to go the extra mile and promote them to their friends. In fact, according to a survey by Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute, 81% of emotionally connected consumers will promote the brand to family and friends. In addition, 70% of these respondents spend twice as much with the brands they are emotionally attached to than those without the warm fuzzies.”
How hungry are you to make people, your customers, happy?
As my new friend, Archie, and his band mates proved to me and every audience member around me during each of the 4 or 5 performances I saw of Matboukha Groove, you can’t fake that hunger. You either have it or you don’t. If you don’t, just like audiences of a street performance, your customers will hardly take notice and move on. If the experience isn’t engaging or memorable, there’s no sense in hanging around or telling others about it.
The quality of your performance defines your customers’ experience with your business.
Just as it is for Disney performers, if you make a lasting impression by putting your “audience” first, they’ll always come back for more and bring their friends and family with them.
As always, I welcome your questions and feedback. Feel free to reach out to me through the email address that follows.
This article authored by: Ron Ruth | Keynote Speaker, Customer Experience Design Consultant & Coach, Founder of the #Inspiramaginativity™ Institute.
Learn to speak fluent “WOW!”—the language of high-spending, loyal, raving customers. Contact Ron to speak at your upcoming event or to provide a special, Customer Experience training session for you and your team – email [email protected] or call (816) 224-4487.
“Ron Ruth is a natural speaker and storyteller who excels onstage. He is so inventive in his entertaining and interactive delivery style that audiences are immediately drawn into his presentations as willing participants. Ron has always been a breeze to work with and is a speaker I know I can always count on and recommend without reservation.” – Shannon Underwood, Wedding MBA Vice President/Conference Director
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