Learn from Disney’s goof


We all admire Disney’s success models. I’ve even been privileged to attend outstanding programs by the Disney Institute located at Walt Disney World. So, when something doesn’t go as Disney planned, it’s a surprise. The bright side, however, is there’s also a lesson in it if we take time to look.

A case in point — the incredible mix up and success of the kick-off of Disney Plus (Disney’s new streaming service) that made headlines last week, albeit not in the way Disney planned. Essentially, it was projected that perhaps as many as 8 million would subscribe to the new service between now and the end of the year. But over-the-top success is not uncommon for a Disney venture and, thus, a reported 10 million subscribers jumped on to get the new service in just two days.

With such an unexpected onslaught, customers might be expected to patiently accept some hiccups. But patience isn’t a trait exhibited often these days. Disney customers unhappily reported they had to wait as much as 2 hours for help from a customer service that was now overrun. So, they turned to Disney’s FAQ page. That didn’t work out, either. Others went on to the chat option and that service balked, too.

Oh, that a marine dealer could be so overrun with calls. Nevertheless, the lesson here is that today’s customers are not patient. After all, we’re living in fast-food, instant-gratification, dial-for-delivery, times. Accordingly, a reminder for all dealers is that a priority should be to have a system for rapid response to all customer calls and inquiries. If incoming calls aren’t answered quickly live (preferred), there should be a promise for a fast return call in the recorded message. It should be checked hourly and, then, immediately returned. Contact speed today is pivotal to good customer service.

Which brings up the second concern about good customer service — how to recognize when a customer is about to split.


We all acknowledge that keeping existing customers is far more cost efficient than getting new ones. So, customer retention is simply a top importance. The combination of retaining existing customers, supplemented with the addition of new customers, is a winning combo.

Writing in CRM Magazine, Mitch Lee of Vendavo, a market leader in intelligent commercial solutions, notes there are new customer experience tools to both identify and monitor customer actions to improve satisfaction levels. Periodic check-ins with customers can indicate potential trouble. It can start with a look at their buying behavior, he advises.

“Sometimes a dissatisfied customer can hide in plain sight,” Lee said. “If you look close enough, their buying behavior can provide clues about how they feel doing business with you or whether they may be cozying up with a competitor.”

Reviewing a customer’s history that reveals a change in the pattern of frequent purchases or service orders can be a sign of losing the customer. Satisfied customers will normally have a steady record. If any changes are discovered, contact that customer right away to find out what’s happening and attempt to re-strengthen the relationship. Sometimes just the contact and show of personal concern can get it done. Other times incentives may be in order. But remember it’s always cheaper to keep the customer.

Historically, salespeople have done little to use their relationship-building skills to gauge their customers’ satisfaction. Once the sale is complete, they move on and fail to strive for a longer-term relationship. Many may claim they have too many customers to make this approach reliable or scalable. Says Lee: “That’s why so often we hear our sales team say they didn’t see the loss coming, and had they known, they could have done something.”

New customer experience tools have emerged that can both identify and monitor customer actions to improve satisfaction levels. But asking customers what they want, how, and when is a tremendous boost to this effort. And, making periodic personal contact can be the ace card everyone on the sales and service team should be expected to play.


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Changes ahead, changes behind: A long, strange year.

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Strong demand continued through September.

2020: What We Learned

A cross- section of industry leaders weighs in.

Boatloads of New Boaters

The influx of newbies to recreational boating.

Inventory to Remain a Challenge in 2021

Retailer sentiment remained strong in October, but dealers see a shortage of boats as a hurdle for next year

Amplifying Our Collective Voice

In this time of immense change, we all must continue to position the industry for a redefined future

Fortune Favors the Bold

Viking and Valhalla Boat Works had quite a FLIBS.