The Ears Have It

Visiting Disneyland—The Epicenter of Experience

The masters of magic

We speak constantly about how important—and how central—the member experience is for our brand. How it has to be memorable, engaging and, well, magic.

Who do you think of when you hear the word “magic?” For most would-be conjurers, that means Disneyland. Disneyland is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and continues to draw millions of people from around the world. So much of this is due to the extraordinary experience engineered and sustained by Disney at the park, extending from the training, sophisticated queue management and process optimization through to its recent $1 billion dollar investment in smart bracelets. Disney seems to have perfectly mastered the “magic” formula.

Disney itself states that “magic is made by optimizing the mundane.” The idea is to keep guests focused on the fun, and engaged in the experience, rather than distracted by the inevitable challenges when you’re sharing space with thousands of others. In other words, design away the friction of the usual day-to-day customer experience so that employees can concentrate on delighting the visitors. This emphasis is a key driver in Disneyland’s almost unprecedented visitor return rate of 70%—talk about engagement!

The exact opposite of the above approach is pervasive in traditional health care. Healthcare seems to be all about inefficiencies and making the processes as burdensome and disruptive as possible, so that the patient experience is an afterthought, if it’s even thought of at all.

Not at Crossover Health.

Project Sparkle

We’re not Disney (we certainly don’t have 40,000 member visits a day!), but we’ve always believed we can learn a lot from how the park experience works, and how we can apply some of the lessons to our health centers. That includes the focused effort on designing our member experience, the use of smart technology to “manage the mundane,” and creating environments that deliver integrated team-based care and consistently memorable care experience.

A big part of the Crossover experience revolves around our incredible hosts. They are our ambassadors, the guides for our members, the people who continually weed out inefficiencies while keeping a sharp eye on opportunities to surprise and delight. All of this done, in the face of hundreds of visits per day, with a smile and that extra touch of kindness.

Some months ago, acknowledging the hard work they do, we took fourteen of our hosts down to Disneyland for the day. We called this event Project Sparkle, and it was carefully orchestrated by Sarah Shin and her talent team to be instructive—but also full of surprise and delight. And the talent team flawlessly pulled it off. Each of our hosts received an individualized magic wand with their invitations, special branded T-shirts and backpacks, some background homework, and even an #XOMagic pre-loaded debit cards. They were flown down to Orange County and greeted with Surfboards and the Crossover Health leadership team in the same branded T-shirts.

Fun with a purpose

Of course the day was awesome for our hosts. As a rule, they’re all pretty animated and engaging to begin with, which is part of what makes them so good at their work and such great Crossover representatives. They wore the ears, they kept on their event T-shirts and backpacks, and were able to hang together on the rides, through several shows, and all the laughter of an incredible day. Many had never been to Disneyland and it was a great way to build our “Guild” of hosts. From a team-building perspective, the day was a hit.

But that was only half of its purpose. They experienced firsthand how Disney maintains the magic while managing an enormously complex enterprise. Our hosts saw how Disney solves guest problems, and how they move people and keep them entertained and informed when they do have to wait. They were able to observe the Disney employees in a variety of situations (greeting, guiding visitors, at different venues, etc) while interacting with them on specific scenarios (as part of their pre-packet homework) to test the Disney Magic in the field. They saw how employees, described as “cast members” stay in character because ultimately, it’s everyone’s job to put on a show and be there for the guest.

Creating our own magic

So much of how Disney maintains and improves the experience—the magic—can be the guide for how we optimize our operations and experience. You can see a reflection of this in how our design separates our back-of-house, to keep the member areas calm and focused. But most important for our hosts was recognizing the impact of a shared sense of purpose, the attention to detail, the willingness to always improve how we work and a focus on delighting, not simply serving, our members.

Our hosts (and anyone else in our health centers) may not wear the ears while on the job. But as our Project Sparkle trip showed, we can all learn from the people who do.

(For more on how Disney manages to keep the magic, read this interesting post: and think about how Disney’s approach can be applied to Crossover)