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How Magical is Your Kingdom?

Does Your Employee Brand Experience Support Your Customer Brand Experience?

I just got back from a terrific conference at Walt Disney World in Orlando, created by the firm IModules, that helps college and university executives and teams use marketing technologies to build brand engagement and brand legacy with alumni. They also invited me to participate in the Disney Institute and Tour of the Magic Kingdom and to learn the principles and practices that enable Disney and its Cast Members (employees) to deliver magical brand experiences to kids of all ages. So, here are three things I learned that I think all employers should think about:

  • Sustained success for any institution starts with a focused brand promise and a common purpose that unifies employees and engages them emotionally and rationally. Since 1995, Princeton Partners has called this the Unifying Brand Idea (UBI). A powerful UBI that is infused into the operations and behaviors of employees and supported through recognition, rewards and career opportunities, will result in higher employee engagement. That’s important because high levels of employee engagement correlate directly to customer satisfaction. Since Disney’s UBI or promise is, “We create happiness,” they continually work on new ways to increase both cast member happiness and customer happiness.
  • If you want to improve your customer brand experience, satisfaction and loyalty, listen to your customer-facing employees. Innovation comes from understanding what customers like and don’t like about your product and service delivery, and frontline employees are in the best position to develop valuable new insights and solutions. Disney has an interesting challenge – as popularity breeds larger crowds occupying the same basic space and vying for the same number of rides in the Magic Kingdom, these larger crowds produce longer lines and less access to the magical characters at Disney. Employees came up with ideas like FunPass to reduce line waits and massive photo walls to hide the construction of coming attractions which detracts from the dreamlike, magical experience.
  • Find ways to measure both employee engagement and customer engagement in your organization. For employees, I define engagement as the level of emotional commitment and energy devoted to producing excellence and results that are above and beyond the basic job description. For customers, I define engagement as the desire to seek out, interact and devote time and money with a particular brand in return for the expected benefits.

So what do you do if your firm lacks the time or money to do the research to measure employee and customer engagement?  I recommend you find proxy measures. For example, Glassdoor publicly publishes employee ratings for thousands of organizations. And social sentiments on social media and customer reviews in any number of places provide a good sense of customer satisfaction and brand engagement. For Disney, the Glassdoor ratings are pretty good, but not stellar. Glassdoor shows that Disney World in Orlando gets an overall rating of 3.7 out of 5, and a 70% on “recommend to a friend.” From a customer viewpoint, TripAdvisor shows that 75% of guests rate Disney World “excellent” and 13% “very good.” That shows that there is room for improvement for both employees and guests. My hypothesis is this: Strong and positive employee satisfaction and engagement will positively influence customer satisfaction and engagement over time. The opposite should also be true. 

So, start thinking about the relationship between your employee brand perception and your customer brand perception. My final advice is this: Always keep your customer focus, but put your employees first in your list of priorities because that’s where sustainable success comes from.


Marketing Agency Blog Post Author of How Magical is Your Kingdom?

July 26, 2019
Written by Tom Sullivan

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