image credit: wdwtourguide.com
Disney has always been an innovator in using community building techniques both on and offline. They may be about to bring social CRM out of the realm of your browser and into their resorts.
The Walt Disney Company recently filed for technical specs with the FCC for an RFID mechanism to enhance the customer experience at its theme parks and resort destinations.
While much of the media's coverage focuses on improving customers' ability pay and spend more at stores and restaurants across Disney properties, there is a bigger takeaway for marketing, customer care, and product executives. It comes from Disney's future ability to personalize the live guest experience, use customer behavior in product and engineering decisions, and present offers and resources to customers in real-time.
According to Disney-watching website, Disney By The Numbers, "Former employees and bloggers say Disney is looking at using RFID sensors in attractions, so that experiences could be tailored based on individual guest preferences. For example, as guests wander around a park or advance through a ride, their favorite animated character might appear and address them by name."
On the web, social CRM adds behavioral and sentimental data from online community activity to traditional transactional and demographic data to enable companies to better understand the needs, lifecycle stage, and desired interactions of prospects and customers.
Now, imagine walking through the main street in your town and receiving personalized information in each shop or restaurant you stop in based on who you are and where else you have been in the town. Imagine city planners using information about how you meander down main street to improve your experience and make economic development decisions, such as whether the riverfront should be green space or filled with boutique hotels.
Disney By The Numbers explains, "RFID tracking could also give Disney much more detailed data about its guests' spending habits and movements, which could in turn be a powerful sales tool. Disney might be able to tell, for instance, that a family wandering one of its theme parks in the evening has no dinner reservations, and so could contact the family by cell phone to suggest nearby restaurants with available seats or promotions."
Disney will be able to bring together customers' transactional data (length of visit, purchases, etc.), demographic data (group size, ages, etc.), and behavioral data (where they went, what they did, etc.).
Disney will use predictive models to increase customer satisfaction and boost revenue. For instance, if they knew that 64% of guests with children rode Splash Mountain and then went across the street to buy ice cream, Disney could increase revenue by adding additional cold treats to that shop or moving an ice cream stand closer to the ride's exit.
While this strategy is not possible for many in-person venues due to the fact that you need to own the entire ecosystem, like Disney does at The Walt Disney World Resort, almost all mid-sized and large companies and membership organizations can do this online using private social communities.
Company-owned online customer communities provide valuable information, discussions, and connections to customers, prospects, and partners while giving the company rich insight into what it would take to strengthen customer relationship and improve the customer experience (read: keep them as customer, get the next sale, help them become stronger advocates).
Just as with any online or offline strategy where a company collects data about customers' behaviors, there are some risks for Disney. However, in the same way that companies have learned not to creep customers out online by overtly revealing too much about the information they have about them, the public's reception to Disney's "live CRM" investment will hinge on how Disney uses the information that they have about customers.
Disney's quiet $1 billion investment in improving guests' experience and collecting all-important behavioral data about customers serves up two lessons. It both acts as validation as to where things are going in both B2C and B2B businesses, as well as serves as an excellent illustration of social CRM for executives who are struggling to explain their strategy.
Luckily, not all organizations have a 47 square-mile resort to deal with. As more and more customers and prospects use the web to research solution, build connections, and find support, companies have the opportunity to significantly increase sales and customer retention by using private online communities in conjunction with their CRM system to get actionable data about their target audiences.