A closer look at how some organizations are truly redefining the customer experience

The world is now in the early stages of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – the Digital Age. The digital revolution that began in the middle of the last century has exploded into the App Economy, which is fundamentally altering the way we live, work, and relate to one another. Software is the key driver of growth, innovation, and efficiency in this new age, but how you deliver it says a lot about how you’ll be able to compete in this world.

Consumer demands and expectations have never been higher, and so are the number of options from which to choose. How do you ensure that you are providing the best combination of features, security, and convenience? One area that is getting a lot of focus is friction-specifically, how do you minimize the friction you add to the customer journey? Shep Hyken, New York Times bestselling business author, digs into ten key ways business trigger points of friction in his new book, The Convenience Revolution.  But in this blog, we will focus on two examples of companies who addressed friction using technology.

Ending a Cruise and Saving Face

In 2013, my wife and I took our son on his first cruise.  We had been struggling to find that perfect getaway that was super easy and convenient for the parents, but also fun for a child. Someone recommended a cruise, and that fall we sailed from Baltimore to Bermuda. We were hooked and cruises have been a part of our annual vacation planning ever since. But, as we moved to larger ships, we were struck by one annoying thing-something that ruins almost any travel experience, security.

At the end of our relaxing and peaceful vacation, we disembarked the ship only to be faced with the lines for customs and immigration.  It is sad enough waking up knowing that your vacation is over, and it is now time to get back to work, but leaving the ship and standing in line with 6,000 fellow passengers is just painful. Enter technology.

Royal Caribbean knew that their customers were frustrated by the customs process, and wanted to reduce this friction, so they partnered with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to introduce facial recognition at the Port of Miami and Cape Liberty. It was a truly inspired idea.

When each passenger checks in before their cruise, their picture is taken and loaded onto their sea pass card. This is used to identify the passenger when they get on and off the ship in different ports. This same technology can be used to clear the passengers through immigration by comparing facial scans taken at the beginning of the cruise with those taken at departure, and by also comparing them to a government database of passport photos. The process takes about 2 seconds per passenger, making this final step of clearing customs an extremely fast, secure, and frictionless process.

Banding Together to Extend the Magic

Along this same theme, Disney also wanted to transform the customer experience within their parks. If you have never had the opportunity to visit the beast that is Walt Disney World, especially with young children, then you have missed one of the true modern-day rights of passage for a parent. Just to put things in context.  The Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Symphony of the Seas, is the world’s largest and carries, on average, 5,400 passengers each voyage. This equates to about 280,000 visitors annually. Walt Disney World averages about 250,000 visitors a day.  Which of these sounds like a more relaxing and peaceful vacation to a parent?

But like Royal Caribbean, Disney is also laser-focused on delivering the best experience to its guests. In fact, some would argue that Disney sets the bar for creating the ultimate customer experience. And in 2015, Disney took a $1 Billion bet on IoT when it introduced the MagicBand. Disney recognized that lines of any kind detracted from the magical experience that they were trying to create. The MagicBand helps to do this.

Worn on each guest’s wrist, the MagicBand transmits a signal more than 40 feet in every direction. It can do everything from unlocking your hotel door to ordering food and buying merchandise with the wave of a hand. It can also notify restaurants of your impending arrival, so the hostess can greet you by name and your food order can be processed to minimize your wait. And not only do they work like magic, but they have been adopted by the cruise industry. Royal Caribbean introduce similar magic bands on its Oasis and Quantum class ships and Princess introduced the Ocean Medallion in 2017.


Royal Caribbean and Disney both leveraged technology to remove friction and enhance customer experience, but both were also addressing security. In the first case, Royal leveraged facial recognition to positively identify users to remove friction from the customs and immigration process. They were authenticating the users and under the covers, were comparing digital images against those housed in a government database via API calls. And what about Disney?  They are using an IoT device to make API calls to identify the user, to unlock a hotel room door, and to conduct payment transactions. This is exactly what Layer7 delivers – one portfolio to secure and accelerate digital transformation.

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