As 2018 was coming to an end, I was completing the first draft of my new book about Airbnb and about the guest experience delivered by Airbnb’s host community (I’ll share more about that McGraw-Hill book as we get closer to publication).
Airbnb and Walt Disney
In the process of working on the book, I was writing about what Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky refers to as his company’s desired magical end-to-end travel experience. During the research process, I traced Brian’s use of the word magic back to influences from Neal Gabler’s book Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. Neal wrote a brilliant analysis of Walt Disney as an animator, entrepreneur, family man, political figure, and entertainment industry mogul.
Let me provide you an excerpt from Neal’s writing to frame the magic you can provide through your 2019 customer experience. Neal shares:
…the most powerful source as well as his greatest legacy may be that Walt Disney, more than any American artist, defined the terms of wish fulfillment…as the journalist Adela Rogers St. John put it…he ‘makes dreams come true’…and…’remolded a world not only nearer to his heart’s desire, but to yours and mine.’
Let’s hold the concepts of wish fulfillment, making dreams come true, and remolding a world nearer to what our customer’s desire and pull back to a broader discussion of magic.
Magic and Mystique
When I was a young consultant and speaker, I studied and performed magic as part of my keynote presentations. My claim to fame was a joint performance with my daughter for her first-grade classmates.
For me, when magic is well-performed audience members experience wonderment. Their curiosity is piqued, and they ponder – how did the magician do that? The same can be said when it comes to the magic of well-crafted customer experiences.
In my book, The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, I outline how that company attempts to create experiences that reinforce The Ritz-Carlton mystique. Of course, mystique refers to a mystery and allure, and in the case of The Ritz-Carlton, that mystique manifests when a guest wonders How did they know I wanted that? or How did they determine that was my preference?
Pulling it Together
Looping magic back to Neal Garber’s description of Walt Disney and applying it to the customer experiences you will provide in 2019, why not strive to be magical? What would it take for you to not only address your customer’s needs but also fulfill their wishes?
My hunch is that for magical customer experiences to become real, you will need to understand the desires of your customers’ hearts and methodically seek to remold your service experience to bring it closer to those desires.
If this sounds like I’m asking for you to sprinkle pixie dust on your business, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Walt Disney, leaders at The Ritz-Carlton, and other business leaders work extremely hard to understand the wants, needs, and desires of their customers. They anticipate unstated needs and surprise customers through consistent execution.
It is my hope that in 2019 you will deliver magical experiences for your customers and that your business wishes will be fulfilled.
My team and I are here to help you. Contact us for a complimentary consultation. I look forward to connecting soon, and happy as well as MAGICAL new year.
Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.
Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli
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