What Kind of Experience Do You Want Your Guests to Have?

Unlike many other places that sell coffee, Starbucks builds the equity of our brand through the Starbucks Experience. It comes to life every day in the relationship our people have with our customers. By focusing again on the Starbucks Experience, we will create a renewed level of meaningful differentiation and separation in the market between us and others who are attempting to sell coffee.  – Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, speaking about the priority of the customer Experience as a part of Starbucks Transformation Agenda

3 Aspects of Starbucks Customer Experience Excellence

Starbucks leaders:

  • Define and communicate the desired and unique Starbucks Experience
  • Select individuals with the requisite talent to deliver that experience consistently
  • Train partners on the key pillars necessary to engage customers regularly

The worthy customer experience ideals at Starbucks are expressed in the company’s mission statement and are supported by the principles of how this mission is lived out everyday – principles like the following:

Our Customers – When we are fully engaged, we connect with, laugh with, and uplift the lives of our customers – even if just for a few moments. It starts with the promise of a perfectly made beverage, but our work goes far beyond that. It’s really about human connection.

Our Stores – When our customers feel this sense of belonging, our stores become a haven, a break from the worries outside, a place where you can meet with friends. It’s about enjoyment at the speed of life – sometimes slow and savored, sometimes faster. Always full of humanity.

SB customers

Organizational consultant Joseph Michelli, in his new book Leading the Starbucks Way, writes that these principles are “brief and clear, and put the customers, products, and experiences at the purposeful center of Starbucks.”

Many organizations orient new team members by teaching them the tasks to be performed on the job but fail to educate them on service excellence skills and/or the experience that they want those team members to deliver. At Starbucks, initial skills training quickly moves into content like “Customer Service Basics” and the “Starbucks Experience.”

A great example is a process tool called the “Store Walk Through”, where the new team members move through the café environment observing and recording important aspects that a customer is likely to encounter on their journey from arrival through departure. These customer perspective walks occur once per shift at each store.

Another helpful tool provided by Starbucks leaders is a defined service vision that describes what needs to be achieved during service experiences. Additionally, it provides four customer service behaviors that help partners understand how the customer service vision is to be accomplished.

The Starbucks customer vision statement reads “We create inspired moments in each customer’s day.” To accomplish this objective, partners are encouraged to focus on the following customer service behaviors:

  • Anticipate
  • Connect
  • Personalize
  • Own

According to Michelli, by providing the desired destination and ways to arrive there, you help your teams develop exceptionally strong bonds with customers that powerfully differentiate your organization from the competition.

ChurchWorld Application

  1. If asked, what percentage of your Guest Experience team members could articulate your Guest Experience vision or the way you want Guests to feel as a result of the experiences they have while at your campus?
  2. Develop a process tool in which your team members literally walk through the entire Guest Experience at your campus from the perspective of a Guest. Debrief the training. Make it a regular part of your team training.
  3. Do you know what your Guests are expecting when they come to your campus? Are your Guest Experience team members knowledgeable enough about Guest expectations to anticipate and deliver an extraordinary experience?

Michelli continues to develop the exceptional customer experience by outlining additional competencies that world-class service providers exhibit:

  • The ability to maximize customer engagement through environmental design
  • Integration of key sensory factors
  • A capacity to listen and adapt your Guest Experience to meet the changing wants, needs, and desires of your customers

While many leaders look for ways to improve experiences by adding elements to the environment, the best outcomes often come from the removal of negative cues that distract from a memorable experience.     – Joseph Michelli

ChurchWorld Application

  1. Assume the persona of one of your key targets – say, a young single professional. Walk key leaders of your team through your typical Guest Experience, observing through the eyes of your identified persona. What elements of clutter or confusion stand out? What can be done to clean up these experience detractors?
  2. Repeat the same exercise, this time choosing a completely different persona. Are there different areas of clutter or confusion? If so, how will you rectify them?
  3. For a real challenger, repeat this exercise with as many key target groups as you can identify. List all the areas of clutter and confusion and take action on repeated areas immediately.
  4. With your Guest Experience leadership team, conduct a sensory audit of your organization. What are the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities? What sights, sounds, smells, and tactile elements do your Guests experience throughout their journey at your campus? 

A couple of important “Connecting Points” by Michelli:

People can copy your products and your services, but seldom can they build the powerful connections with customers that emerge from the well-designed experiences that you deliver.

Whether it is connecting the design of your physical space to your company’s mission, vision, and values; strengthening efficiencies to improve the customer experience, or adding sensory elements, successful customer experience enhancements have one unifying component: the need to execute the details.

How will you move your Guest Experiences from “replicable and consistent” to “magical and unique”?

Part 3 of a series in the 2013 GsD Fall Term

Leading the Starbucks Way: Information, Insights, and Analysis Needed to Create a High-Performance Guest-Oriented Organization

inspired by and adapted from Leading The Starbucks Way, by Joseph Michelli



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