Lessons from the Disney Parks — Part 3: Preparing for Mistakes

Thought Leadership

By Wells Stringham | October 01, 2021
A blue Mickey Mouse balloon

After closures and limited attendance, Disneyland and Walt Disney World are reopened and ready to greet happy guests. To celebrate, we created this series where we examine how the best practices at Disney Parks can also inform your digital products. You can take a look at part one and part two here — or keep on scrolling to read part three.

A plan is a bare necessity for making amends

Mistakes, accidents, mishaps, and glitches — they happen to all of us. In the business world, mistakes can range from minor, like a mix-up of your take-out order, to brand-destroying, like a customer data breach.

Most of the time, there’s a recovery window in which companies can fix errors or make amends. What matters most for your company’s delicate brand reputation is how well prepared you are for mistakes — how quickly you recover from a blunder, how your team deals with a situation gone wrong, and how good you are at ensuring the affected customer is ultimately happy. Do it right and you’ll get the opportunity to regain a customer’s trust and win back their respect.

But some companies wait for a mistake to happen before they develop an error response plan. Unpreparedness often results in a bad experience for your customers — and that can be difficult to recover from, especially in this age of widespread social sharing. Word of mouth can be the best kind of recommendation for a company, but it can also be the worst kind of condemnation.

Being prepared for dilemmas is right up Disney's street

As experts in customer experience, Disney Parks often provide inspiring examples of what to do. Prepared for problems both big and small, Disney resolves issues promptly and without putting up an argument. They remedy unexpected situations — like cancelations due to weather, ride breakdowns, or reservation mixups — by offering perks like complimentary passes for big problems or food coupons for more minor issues.

These quick, short-term resolutions don’t cost the company much in the grand scheme of things, but they contribute positively to the customer experience. After all, that’s what the Disney Parks are for — to immerse you so deeply into a world of magic and fantasy that all your troubles melt away.

And a big part of that means ensuring happy guests. They don’t want to spend their day arguing with Disney Cast Members (and cast members don’t want to argue with you!). Guests want to leave confrontation and worry behind so they can enjoy the happiest place on Earth.

A statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse in front of the Disney castle

Bringing bibbidi-bobbidi-boo magic to reality

All of this training is part of Disney’s strategy to quickly solving customer problems. But how does that speed translate into the world of applications?

Look no further than food delivery apps, who are getting close to Disney’s level of prompt error responsiveness. Anyone who’s used UberEats, Skip the Dishes, or DoorDash will have experience with this. Instead of the typical “We’ll get back to you within three business days” auto-response we’ve all experienced with traditional customer service systems, mistakes are solved within the day. Received an incorrect order? Receive instant credit — after supplying photo evidence, in some cases.

A brown paper delivery bag at a doorstep

These quick responses are bolstered by live chat — as long as their customer service teams have easy access to the right answers. Instead of solely relying on and sorting through email complaints (thus delaying the delivery of a solution to a customer), live chat can add a layer of convenience to both you and your customers.

And food delivery apps aren’t the only ones prepared to problem solve quickly. At Apply Digital, we often help clients with recovery planning, including PLLAY. A casual esports betting platform, we helped PLLAY implement a two-sided approach to promptly ameliorate player disputes and bugs.

When PLLAY’s AI determines the winner of each match, players have the opportunity to dispute the result. The first side of the recovery plan involves an efficient automated resolution system — which also helps weed out those who may try to cheat the system by constantly flagging disputes.

The second side of the recovery plan is a manual process that brings in a support person to help customers who do get caught up in those situations (among others). Depending on the issue, PLLAY will provide an appropriate remedy, such as complimentary in-app tokens that players can use for future matches.

Though an error response is not typically a core part of the development process, it’s still a critical piece of a company’s well-rounded customer experience model. We don’t need to know exactly what the glitch could be in order to help our clients build a plan to deal with mistakes as soon as something goes wrong.

As you plan your initial app launch, no matter how much quality assurance you do, expect glitches to happen and be prepared to resolve them fast. Grant something of value to impacted customers — something that won’t break the bank, like extra credits, freebies, or coupons. It should be of equal or greater value relative to the inconvenience of disappointment the customer felt.

Remember, the longer an unhappy customer waits, the more vocal they get — especially with how quickly things can become viral on social media. So try not to leave them hanging. A rapid error response is as important to the customer experience as the app launch itself.

For help developing your smart digital app and building an effective recovery plan, contact us at hello@applydigital.com.

Co-Written by Judy Renouf and Jaime Chang