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To Create a Great Customer Experience, Delight but Don’t Distract

great customer experience delight represented by wands at Ollivander's shop

Much has been written about the magical customer experiences that Disney creates at its theme parks. But what about Universal Studios—what can we learn from its customer experience management? On a recent family vacation to Universal Studios, I took away three lessons for delivering a memorable, equity-building customer experience for your customers

The Customer Experience of Buying a Magic Wand

As you probably know, Universal Studios Orlando is home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a strikingly authentic recreation of the magical realm brought to life by J.K. Rowling.  Muggles from around the world descend on the park to experience Hogwarts, drink butter beer and shop in Diagon Alley.  For many, buying a magic wand is a key part of the experience.  A critical look at the wand-buying process provides a few terrific lessons for those obsessed with customer experience.

At Ollivander’s Wand Shop, we were treated to a compelling theatrical recreation of the scene in which Harry Potter chooses his own wand.  Unfortunately, the delight faded quickly when the skit ended and we were ushered into a cramped wand shop with dozens of different wands in hundreds of closed boxes. The stacks of poorly marked, closed boxes make it difficult for aspiring young wizards to choose a wand. This illustrates a core principle of great customer experience design: know exactly what your customer wants to do, and make it easy and delightful for them to do it.

Universal got it right at Wands by Gregorovitch, a shop in another part of the park.  Here, we waited in a short line to speak with a wand expert.  The expert held a glass case in which all the wands were displayed and clearly labeled.  Our expert patiently answered my daughter’s questions and even gave her a helpful, gentle nudge when she was struggling to decide between two wands.  Once the selection was made, an assistant quickly grabbed a boxed wand from the shelves on the wall and we were off to explore the wizarding world with our new wand. 

Here are three customer experience management lessons from our wand-shopping journey:

  1. Delight, but don’t distract from the customer’s mission.  The theatrical re-enactment at Olivander’s was terrific, but the overall customer experience was frustrating, because Universal lost sight of our mission.  My daughter’s mission was to buy a wand.  While she enjoyed the show, this delight didn’t make up for the frustration of browsing for a wand, because the latter is what she really cared about.  Too often, we think of creative ways to delight the customer, but fail to realize that “delight” falls flat when it gets in the way of what the consumer came to do.
  2. Anticipate when the customer will want guidance.  The specialist at Wands by Gregorovitch seemed to have a sixth sense for when my daughter had a question or was wrestling with uncertainty.  Anticipating when the customer will want or need guidance is key to delivering a great customer experience.
  3. Put the complexity behind the curtain.  Universal sells dozens of different wands.  At Olivander’s Wand Shop, this complexity was front and center, made obvious by the boxes of wands everywhere we turned.  At Wands by Gregorovitch, the complexity was pushed to the back, easily managed by an employee who knew in an instant where to find the chosen wand amid thousands of boxes. Nearly every business is more complex than it seems.  The better you can shield your customer from the complexity, the better the customer experience.

Admittedly, they’re not magic, but hopefully these three tips can help as you refine and improve your customer experience.