Visionary Walt Disney was a smart man and a master of both observation and action. One of the most powerful lessons he taught was, “You don’t build it for yourself. You know what the people want and you build it for them.”
I recently read an article from the Disney Institute based on this very lesson called, Leadership Lessons from Walt Disney: Perfecting the Customer Experience.
What struck me in this article was this particular paragraph: “OK, so how can we truly know what the people want? The simple answer is to treat them as though they are guests in our own homes, and ask them face-to-face… not by a survey or on-line chat. Think about it. We would never welcome guests into our own home for a dinner party and then ‘manage the event’ from across the street, or even across the hallway. No, we would join in the mix and ask our guests what they would like to drink, or eat, or watch on television.”
In today’s technology-driven world, we rely heavily on providing feedback behind a facade, which we all call online. One could argue that people are more honest in anonymous feedback or the protection of their computer; however, face-to-face interaction makes an experience more personal and genuine. It also gives you a well-rounded, in-depth understanding of what your attendees actually want. With the right kind of people asking the questions – ones who are unbiased and friendly – human connections can encourage people to want to talk about their feelings and perspectives. Even if you don’t have someone asking attendees questions, you can have these scouts milling around an event to hear what people are saying and observing their behavior. Being among the crowd will provide you with better actionable insight than an online survey or feedback forum ever could. It also gives you the chance to be the attendee. Only then can you experience exactly what your attendees are experiencing.
So how do you know what your attendees want? In Walt’s words: “Get out there, be willing to listen, and then institutionalize learning and continuous improvement on behalf of your customers [read: attendees].”