Perfecting the Customer Experience is a unique, three day benchmarking program held twice a year in Anaheim California. The workshop provides open enrollment participants serious business lessons in a fun, immersive environment.

Your facilitators, Jeff Kober and Ted Topping are your hosts in this intense, small group program that allows participants to see the business behind the wonder of Disney.

Participants walk away with new ideas for taking their organization, whether in the public, private, or non-profit sector, to new heights.

Jeff Kober views business from a Disney background. Ted Topping views Disney from a business background. Together they will help you experience both from the crucial perspective of your customer.

Formerly a leader with the Disney Institute, Jeff Kober, president of Performance Journeys, has authored several books and apps on building strong brands and developing high performing cultures.

Ted Topping is president of Creative Insights, a service-design consulting firm in Vancouver. Known globally for his work in retail, he is author of the best-selling book Start and Run a Retail Business and numerous magazine articles.

As authors, speakers, and consultants, both Jeff and Ted work with organizations to create sustained results in a consumer-facing business.

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FROM: Perfecting the Customer Experience A Disney Dispatch Feature

"Coming Soon" builds the Disney relationship

Ted Topping discusses three ways in which Disney uses "Coming Soon" – normally a way of promoting movies – to create a sale, add value to that sale and then convert it into a long-term relationship.



Although most businesses need to cut expenses in a weak economy, an unfortunate side effect of doing so can be a shift in strategic focus from the long term to the short term. Efforts aimed at building repeat business give way to a desperate “we need a sale” panic. But there is an alternative.

In our Disneyland benchmarking workshop, Perfecting the Customer Experience, Jeff Kober and I look at three ways in which Disney avoids that shift by directing Guests’ attention to what’s “Coming Soon.” The first of these creates a sale. The second adds value to the sale so that the customer is getting more. The third converts the sale into an ongoing relationship. Together, they represent a strategy that other businesses can also use.

In the context of benchmarking, it is an effective way to manage and grow a business-customer relationship.


NEMO creates a sale

Disney used the first form of Coming Soon just before the opening of Disneyland’s Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage attraction in 2007. A cavalcade of vehicles, provided and fuelled by park sponsors, visited various west-coast cities in May and June of that year, and my partner and I caught the first stop on the tour: the Vancouver Aquarium.

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A cavalcade of vehicles, provided and fuelled by park sponsors, visited various west-coast cities in May and June of 2007.

Turtle Talk

Beyond the thought of Disneyland visiting us, we got to experience a mobile version of Turtle Talk with Crush.

Nautical Exploration Sub

In Vancouver: a road-worthy version of the Nautical Exploration and Marine Observation Institute (NEMO) submarine.

Mickey Floral

Large Coming Soon attraction posters were originally located on the wall in front of the famous Mickey floral.

Attraction Posters

Attraction posters tell Guests what they have to look forward to: rides and attractions, many based on Disney movies.

Blue Sky Cellar

Promoted as an inside peak at what Disney Imagineers have in store, Blue Sky Cellar lets Guests “see the future.”

From the business perspective, Guests are already thinking about their next visit – and perhaps the one after that.

Coming Soon in 2012: Cars Land will feature rides set in Radiator Springs, the town made famous in the movie Cars.

The NEMO team had travelled north from Anaheim on the I-5, and was now beginning its return trip. The plan was to visit marine, science and other appropriate facilities along the way where the group could set up, draw a crowd and “bang the drum” a little.

The centerpiece of the show was a road-worthy version of the yellow Nautical Exploration and Marine Observation Institute (NEMO) research submarine. In the new Disneyland attraction, Guests would sit at a similar submarine’s porthole while the vessel traveled “fathoms beneath the surface,” letting people experience underwater curiosities including an undersea volcano.

Beyond the exciting thought of Disneyland visiting us in our own backyard, we got to experience a mobile version of the Turtle Talk with Crush attraction that had then just recently opened in Anaheim. And while people interacted with Crush, we got to speak at length with Mike Novak, the vehicle’s professional driver, who once drove floats in the Main Street Electrical Parade.

From that day forward, we hoped that a trip to Anaheim would be Coming Soon because we now had a personal link to the Nemo attraction and wanted to experience it more than ever.


Posters add value to the sale

The second form of Coming Soon has been a part of Disneyland since its earliest years.

Many of the people who imagined and engineered Disneyland in 1955 came to the project from the Walt Disney Studios. They were movie people who understood the art and science of making movies, and they tended to envision Walt’s new park in the same way.

This is why the Disneyland customer experience incorporates what would be called long shots, medium shots and close-ups in film, as well as transitions that are equivalent to dissolves and fades as the Guests move from area to area.

In this context, it somehow feels natural that Disneyland features large Coming Soon attraction posters at the park entrance.

Similar to the posters you see outside a movie theater, these tell park Guests what they have to look forward to that day: rides and attractions, many of them based on Disney movies.

Originally located on the wall in front of the famous Mickey floral – a popular photo background for Guests – the attraction posters were eventually moved into the tunnels that lead into the park.

These posters are powerful in their emotional promise. The silk screen process used to create many of them communicates the “feel” of the attraction immediately. The images have been used on post cards, coffee mugs and pins, and my PTCE colleague Jeff Kober has several of them displayed formally in his home.

By adding to the “specialness” and anticipation of the attractions they depict, these Coming Soon posters increase the value of the admission-ticket purchase that a Guest has already made.


Cellar converts the sale into a relationship

The Blue Sky Cellar represents the third form of Coming Soon. It helps Disney build long-term relationships with its Guests.

Before each stage of the $1.2-billion construction project that currently is bringing Disney California Adventure closer to the customer experience that Guests expect from Disney, the company has showcased what is Coming Soon in this small in-park location.

Promoted as an inside peak at what Disney Imagineers have in store, Blue Sky Cellar lets Guests “see the future” while looking at the creative process used to develop current ideas into future attractions. Exhibits include things that Guests would not normally see: sketches, concept art, models, maquettes and a video journal documenting the creative progress.

The idea for this grew out of the fond memories that Guests have of previous Disneyland preview centers, including one that operated when Disney California Adventure was added to the property in 2001. Its success lies partly in the “behind the scenes” access that Guests feel they have.

From the business perspective, Guests are already thinking at a subtle level about their next visit – and perhaps even the one after that.

For some, Coming Soon once meant a trip to Anaheim when World of Color opened in 2010. And another when The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure opened in 2011.

Now Coming Soon means a trip to Anaheim when Cars Land opens in 2012. This area will feature three new rides set in Radiator Springs, the red-rock desert town made famous in the Disney-Pixar movie Cars. It will be huge by any measure.

Whenever we start to discuss Disney promotions, marketing or advertising, someone typically suggests that it is all a matter of budget. And we typically reply that, actually, it’s not. Coming Soon, like so many worthwhile ideas, is a way of thinking – one that keeps the focus on the long-term relationship Disney wants to have with its Guests.


For more information about Perfecting the Customer Experience, please contact Jeff Kober or Ted Topping. The next public programs are September 27 to 29, 2011 and February 21 to 23, 2012. Companies may prefer a private, tailored experience. Neither the program nor its facilitators are associated in any way with The Walt Disney Company.

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