Pixie Dust & Profits is a podcast for small business owners who love Disney and want to sprinkle some of that magic onto their own businesses. Join your host, Nicole Boucher and Yasmine Spencer as they explore the mouse’s $12.6 billion operation and break down exactly how you can apply these big scale concepts to your own.
Welcome everyone to this week’s episode of Pixie Dust & Profits. We are here today to share maybe the not so nice side of Disney things that happen, customer service issues that pop up because, you know, they’re a big company and they don’t do everything perfect way. So today we’re talking about not taking your fans for granted and the inspiration behind this episode is all about customer experience, which you know, is near and dear to both of our hearts, but especially in mine. And it’s all inspired by some of the frustrations I’ve had in the Disney vacation planning process. So for example, a recent example with COVID-19 and everything shutting down this year, Disney was kind of putting out this messaging that if you had an annual pass, you could potentially get a refund or, you know, get days extended to it, based on how long they were going to stay closed.
And we had multiple trips scheduled, actually Yasmine, and I were supposed to be there in March for a business trip for Pixie Dust & Profits. And we were supposed to be there for a family trip in June, and both of those got canceled. So the annual pass that I had that was supposed to cover both of those visits now, null and void and expired. And I kept trying to call and get that refund or get the extension. So I could somehow use that money. I had invested and knowing I would take multiple trips and a different way, and I just couldn’t get through, I mean, one time I just left my phone on for an hour, hoping to get to a customer service agent. And there was a different department for annual passes versus the, you know, regular 800 line. And so I don’t know if that means there’s only so many employees on the other side, but needless to say, I never did get through.
I got an email at one point that I was able to complete a form, but it wouldn’t let me go back in and complete the form again for my husband and my son. So I haven’t heard anything about it. I don’t know if I’m getting a refund overall. I did get a couple of checks out of that annual pass. So I don’t feel like I was completely cheated or anything like that. You know, all of the things going on in the world right now in the grand scheme of things, I’m okay with not having to use the rest of that annual pass, but just the frustrations there with trying to call, trying to use the online form, getting it to work for one of us, but not the other two. Very frustrating. And then I had another experience that was probably a year and a half, two years ago.
Now that I think Yasmine can recall because I would be so upset with us, but we were essentially treating my in-laws and my brother-in-law and my father-in-law to a trip to Disney. We were using our vacation club points for them to stay and a two bedroom. We were super excited for this. It was probably there like once in a lifetime type of Disney trip for my nephew and niece, especially, and we just wanted them to have a really great time. And part of the thing, when you’re scheduling a trip for nine, 12, people is making sure that you’re all connected through the Disney system with each other. And what that does is let you book reservations together, book rooms together, all of the things that you need to do when you’re trying to, you know, vacation together. But for some reason, my brother-in-law was not recognized on my account.
He could see me, but I couldn’t see him and everything about the reservations were in my name. So I couldn’t add him to our FastPasses. I couldn’t add him to reservations for food and dining. And it actually got to the point that I had called just to make sure we still had a room set up. I think a lot of the STEM from we had to change rooms very early on in the planning process and something must’ve happened in it world. But, you know, I confirmed everything a week before everyone kept reassuring me. It’s fine. You know, I’d submitted so many it tickets to get things fixed. It never got fixed, but they kept assuring me. It would be, we showed up in person, December waiting for our room. And needless to say, it didn’t seem like they had a two-bedroom for us, despite me having a reservation number, calling all these other times, they could not recognize my brother-in-law in the system.
It just, it was very worrisome and probably the most Rocky start to any vacation I have been on. And this was a vacation where we were trying to treat family members who had never been to Disney or went when they were very young. And, you know, we really wanted them to have that concierge level service that, you know, we’re kind of their tour guides. And, you know, we get there after a long flight kids melting down very young kids. I think they were like two and four and it was hot. It was December we’re from the North. So 80 degrees in December is not our cup of tea. And we don’t have a room. We don’t know when we’re going to get a room. We don’t know when we’re going to get our luggage, that the luggage, and it comes till seven at night, we had to wear pants to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party.
And it was just frustrating. So this is where the inspiration of this episode came from. Sometimes customer service things happen. And we want to make sure that we talk about some of these like hiccups that happen along the way, because obviously I am still a Disney fan. I’m still going to the parks all the time. And I recognize that mistakes happen. But boy, when they happen, it can be frustrating as a guest. So don’t take your fans for granted. Even your biggest fans will get frustrated with you. At some point, if you let things like your it, your customer service, your wait times, your things, like if you let those go by the side, even your biggest fans are going to be frustrated.
So those are all great points. Nicole, I’ve had a few challenges with the Disney system, myself, nothing quite to the degree that you went through, but I can recall at least two or three occasions where I got up at my 60 day window to book my FastPasses at 7:00 AM and had all sorts of issues with either not being able to add someone to my party who should have been on my part and had their tickets and everything was sorted to just the like windows, not loading and erroring out and timing out, which is something that people experienced quite often with Disney. I mean, I get it. There’s a ton of people on at that exact time trying to do the very same thing that I do. But one would think that after, you know, a couple of years Disney would prepare their servers for that onslaught of traffic.
A more recent example of challenges we’ve had with the Disney experience was, well, Nicole mentioned, we had two trips that we canceled already, or two trips that she canceled already because of the closure. We canceled a third our visit in August for fixed costs and profits alive, which we made a virtual experience. And then we thought, okay, let’s go in November by November. Hopefully this whole thing will be over and we’ll be able to go and have that like business trip that we had planned to go to in March. And obviously with the direction that things are going in, the County board are still closed. We figured it was just too close and we decided to cancel our November trip. So we booked for March. Okay. You guys are with me. So we were hopefully going in March, hopefully the board will be open and we’ll feel a little bit safer traveling by then, but I was unable to get our theme park reservations without canceling the theme park reservations that I had for us in November.
And when I went to cancel those, it just wouldn’t let me, so for 15 minutes and logging in and out of my account, I’m trying to cancel this reservation. And I kept getting error after error, after error to the point where I was just like, Oh, I’ll do this later. And you know, when you’re planning a Disney trip, I don’t know about you, Nicole, but I like, I get all dressed up for it. Like in like this planning mood, I have like my notebook, cause I have a notebook where I plan things. And of course, of course, in a sounding board that was the most Nicole thing you’ve ever said, but you know, I’m so jazz and these things are obviously, you know, a bit of a downer and now, you know, it’s been a couple of days since I last ride. I haven’t really gone back into it now because I don’t want to, but because again, that’s one more thing to add to the, to list on top of everything else. So it’s super duper annoying. And while again, it’s not enough to make me not want to go to Disney. These are things that Disney has had issues with like Disney it issues. Everyone’s dealt with them at some point. And I recall reading a while back that the reason why things are so troublesome is because they added the whole, my Disney experience platform on top of really old it that they had rather than rebuild it from the ground up. Does that sound right?
I can see that. I don’t know if that’s true, but I remember when we were researching for our FastPass system, like I think that was our very first episode. And we were researching for that. It did talk about how it was, you know, a billion dollar investment. So I’m sure it would be much more money if they had to rebuild the entire system from the ground up. But yeah, I could totally see that being the reason behind things being not so great at times. I mean, this is bringing back, talking about FastPasses when we were there for rise of the resistance, you had to enter the park by 7:00 AM or 6:00 AM, whatever time the bar park opened and then wait to get into like a queue number to get onto the ride. It was this whole crazy thing. They had set up to be able to claim your, your seat essentially.
And my brother and I got through, but my husband did not. And so we were worried all day long that my husband, the biggest star Wars fan out of all of us, was not going to be yet be able to get on because of some it issue or both of our phones were trying to connect at the same time and one got through and one didn’t and you know, Disney’s great. They did blood them through seeing that he entered the park at the same time we entered the park so they could tell, you know, he didn’t come later or anything like that. So they have ways to, you know, get around the system and everything. But man, the whole day, his nerves of like, am I not going to get on? Are they going to turn me away?
Oh, I could see that being such like a downer for him. Cause he gets so jazzed about stars. Wow. yeah, like those things are super frustrating. Now we were like writing on Disney a little bit about some of the challenges that they’re having, but the one thing that we need to sort of wrap our heads around is like, yes, they’re a massive corporation, but any updates, improvements and technology that they roll out. I mean, Nicole mentioned, they spent a billion dollars on getting everything connected through my Disney experience from FastPasses to magic bands and everything in between. And there are probably hundreds of thousands of people, if not more interacting with their software in the parks, from home, from like heck their headquarters. And you know, we can’t always expect things to run smoothly because it’s been rolled down on like such a massive scale, one little change or fix here could probably mess things up elsewhere.
And if you don’t deal with that, it can be a little bit hard to like wrap your heads around. I mean, like I can barely wrap my head around it, but I can give Disney a little bit of a bright because of that. As online business owners, we typically have like issues that we come up with and it’s literally a matter of like popping in and fixing. We can be so much more agile. We can be so much more quick about making these like changes and improvements, but a big corporation like Disney, there’s so many steps and hoops and levels that they have to go through before they can even, you know, press go on an optimization program or project.
Yeah. They probably have to check the downstream impacts. Right? If we change something here, is it going to impact something else somewhere else? They kind of have to do some due diligence before they even implement a fix. Versus in our case, as small business owners, we kind of probably immediately know what the problem is. It can jump right on it in a lot of cases. Even if it takes time to fix, you can get on it right away, which is both a benefit and a detriment as a small business owner because being a little too agile and flexible also you know, can I wrote some boundaries that you have as a service provider,
For sure. For sure. And the one thing that we have to consider is like Disney is despite the challenges continuously improving their systems and their entire like online and technology experience. I mean, introducing things like mobile ordering, like I freaking love mobile ordering because I don’t have to wait in line anymore. I quick service stopped to like get my food. I can just order what I want go and pick it up. Like there’ve been countless occasions where like on my way to the restaurant in mind, I put in my order, by the time we actually got there, it was ready to go and boom, we ate without having to wait in line. Which is one thing I always try to avoid to do with Disney waiting lines, which seems impossible, but there are ways you can get around it. That’s fine.
It really is great to see. It really is great to see how they’ve incorporated, like what’s happening in the outside world with their inside world. Like the mobile ordering thing of the minivans, all of that. I, I also love mobile ordering it, cosmic rays. It is like my favorite thing in the world of Disney. Cause it’s just so easy to say, okay, we’re going to get on this ride and that ride and go there. And then we’ll just hit we’re here and get our food. It’s so good.
Yeah. And just by virtue of the fact that Nicole and I are hardcore diehard Disney fans, like we’ve gone back like more times than we can count. And we’re not the only ones. There are like literally hundreds of thousands of people like us that says something about Disney’s commitment to continuous improvement and really making sure that despite these frustrations and the experiences that they’re providing us are magical. And that’s what gets us to continue to come back. So what does this mean for you? Like we’re not going to tell you to fix your, like it and tech. I swear the business takeaway that we want to discuss today is the importance of keeping your current customers happy. We know like we all hear that we all like know that, Oh, it’s cheaper to like keep a customer than acquire a new one. Absolutely. But like, what does that mean?
I can think of a few examples on like projects that I’ve worked on or just like businesses that I’ve seen have been so focused on consistently bringing in new customers that they did it to the detriment of the client relationships that they actually already had when you’re only focusing on, okay, when’s the next client coming in or when’s the next sale coming and spending all your time and focus there. The people who you have brought in and who you’re starting to develop that relationship with, you’re starting to nurture well, they should to feel neglected. And the consequence of that is that, well, then they get upset and leave and you’re in this like hamster wheel where you’re constantly running and trying to get new people in and turning them out. And that is not the path to growing a sustainable business. You really need to look at your efforts and make sure that you are, I would even argue spending two thirds of your time focusing on your existing customers. And one third of your time focusing on marketing efforts to bring in new ones. Because once you bring people in there that is your best chance to nurture them and you know, make them long lasting clients figure out what that customer life cycle is. If you have an Ascension model, making sure that they are feeling loved and that they’re getting value from you. So they want to keep coming back and they want to keep buying from you.
Not only does doesn’t mean that, that existing customer, like they already have the trust built in. Once you have trust built, that is a currency that you can’t really put a dollar value on, but we try to as marketing specialists. So yeah, you get that trust built up. And so then they’re more likely to buy from you in the future, whether it be a new program that you have a different offer in the program. They’re currently a part of, even if it’s someone who leaves for a little while, because they have something happen in their life, like COVID came up and you know, they lost resources from other places and they decide, okay, well, I need to pause on this thing that I do with them. They’ll come back later because you’ve built that, that like, and trust factor, they’re also very likely to refer you to their friends because they have such a high level of trust with you.
So I agree with Yasmine and that spending like the two thirds of your time on the existing audience and a third of your time on bringing in new people is a strategy that can’t really treat you wrong. I mean, with our accelerator program, 100% of the people who were in our accelerator program, but then joined our membership program because B we were there for them and we were serving them and we made sure that we listened to everything they were asking, gave them that time and attention, and really helped them partner partner with their businesses in some ways. And so it’s really important to not take your current fans for granted. I have also seen those play out in different ways. For example, when you’re so focused on bringing new people in you’re, you’re kind of looking at all those frontline offers, you know, you’re looking at, Oh, what, what little new product can I put out there to grab someone in, let me re tweak something.
So it’s for, for new people. And so you start retweaking and repurposing a of content. And I am the queen of re-purposing. I think it’s a fabulous idea, but I don’t think that that means that you don’t have to create anything new because you know, they’ll repurpose everything, put out a bunch of frontline offers and kind of like they’re throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what will stick and getting new people. And then what happens is the existing people who are already there. And they’re kind of watching from the sidelines, like I’ve seen this before. I know what this is. It’s, it’s just a rewritten version of that. Other thing I really loved. I mean, I’ll do it again because it’s still great information, but they started catching on and then they’re like, well, I’m not, I’m not being really paid attention to at all. And so it just turns into this cycle of they’ll start noticing if you start neglecting them.
Absolutely. We’ve also seen this work in the opposite way, where focusing so much on your existing audience and your core product actually helps you grow and scale a business, right? Like Becca, who is interested in both, we colonized clients in different ways from the happy aircrafter she has recently opened up the doors to her signature program. Show me your drills, which is a free course for anyone who wants to learn calligraphy. And Becca has like this one product that she launches, right. Nicole, that she’s iterated on over and over again and approved, and it’s grown into this massive thing. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?
Yeah. So, you know, there’s a lot of things out there that talk about, you know, getting different products for different people and, you know, trying to do that like spaghetti at the wall approach, but there’s also the methodology where you go really deep into one signature product and creating a signature product actually is a really freeing for you as a service provider or a product creator, because in Becca’s case, she can continue to refine and hone in on and perfect her one core offer, which is show me your drills. And so I would say that every time she launches, there’s something new, there’s something better. You learn more based on the feedback that you get every semester. I think this is her seventh run of show me your drills. And every video just got refilled. The workbook just got recreated to be more usable from the way that people have been using the workbook.
You know, in the beginning, people were just kind of following along on screen. Then people started printing them. Now people are trying to do show me your drills on their iPads. And so there’s all these different ways and learning. She has accumulated over time to just continue making her signature program even better and better to the point that even though this is the seventh semester, there are people who are participating, who participated in her first or second semester. They stick around every time. It’s a way for them to connect with the big community and to get back to a practice that maybe they got away from in the last six months, since the last semester aired. And it’s just one of those things that is really great to see a product getting really honed in on and perfected. And it has served her, her existing audience really well. The new people that come in, see how excited everyone who has done this before is, and it’s also built this like collective knowledge base where people who have done the previous semester semesters helped the people who are in the current semester, who hadn’t done it before this big community made. And it again makes the entire experience that much better because everyone is in it.
So we started off this episode talking about some of our frustrations with Disney, but the core message that we want you to take away is that despite some of the challenges that they have, they’re doing more to actually keep people engaged and really focusing on loving their existing customers. So you, as a small business, your takeaways today are looking at your current business model. Are you spending two-thirds of your time, engaging your existing audience compared to like one third on just new customer acquisition? If not, what can you do to move the needle in either direction? If right now you’re spending a hundred percent of your time, you know, focusing on your existing audience and not doing any outwards marketing, which I’ll be honest. Sometimes I’m guilty of, because I get so busy in the day-to-day of my business. Like, like, yes, you’re loving on your current audience, but on the other hand, that pipeline that you should be constantly building constantly having some people in it gets close shut. So you never know when a pandemic is going to hit and you might lose a couple of clients or you might have to rethink your entire business model or turn your live events to a virtual one. So make sure you’re valuing your business and making sure that you’re spending like a set making sure twice. So make sure you evaluate where you’re spending your time and your business and that you are loving on both your new audience and your existing audience in the right proportions.
That’s such a good point because I know I’m guilty of it right now with everything going on with remote schooling and a second home, and all of these things that I’m working on right now, running for town council.
But we’re referring out things for Pixie Dust & Profits that’s okay.
Yup. There, there is a lot, there’s a lot of exciting things happening right now. And the first thing to go is really the Instagram stories on my, my business account. So it’s such a good point to think about in terms of whether you’re marketing too much to new customers or marketing, not at all to existing customers. So there definitely needs to be a balance and a swing in either direction. And so again, encouraging you to think about how much time you’re spending on each of those things, and it doesn’t have to be reinventing anything. It doesn’t mean that you have to go ahead and create like a whole new program to gift to your people with if you’re a product seller, this could just be a, Hey, it’s been a while since you’ve purchased something from us, love to give you free shipping on your next order or 20% off, or you know, I got one today from a place that I bought something from two months ago and it just said, Hey, how was the product?
Did you like it? Leave us a review and we’ll give you like $15 off your next order. And so something like that, whether you’re a product seller, pure service provider, it could be something where, you know, you create a Facebook live ish type video and send it to that like existing purchasers and your email list, and then put it live on Facebook for everybody else a week later, you know, kind of giving that, that insight peek at what’s going on at first dibs almost. So it doesn’t have to be something that you don’t use in another way later, but just making sure that you’re showing them that you value them, that you know, that they’re there listening and wanting to hear from you. So giving them that.
I love that. Well guys, thanks so much for joining us for another episode. We hope you took away a couple of things from our discussion. And if you don’t follow us on Instagram, please do. Or, you know, if you have any comments or thoughts about this episode, tag us @pixiedustandprofits. And if you’re not on our list, make sure to join at magic.pixiedustandprofits.com. We always send you a funny email with every new episode plus that’s where we always share all the resources that we put out. So magic.pixiedustandprofits.com. I’ll see you real soon.
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