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The Customer Experience – Spotlight on Starbucks

We discussed the basics of Customer Experience and how to improve it in our previous blog post. Now, let’s take a look at a company consistently recognized as the gold standard for customer experience management and how they earned this reputation. It wasn’t a fluke, providing a great customer experience was part of the Starbucks business plan from the beginning.

When Starbucks began their run to success in the early 1990s, many noted it wasn’t simply about coffee, but that the company was focused on the following factors: Atmosphere, Quality Coffee, Customer Service, and Partner (employee) Satisfaction. Starbucks sought to be a place where people could lounge with a good drink and friends or maybe just a book. This atmosphere was created to establish a friendly and welcoming environment. Through their success they changed the mindset of coffee customers worldwide: from a coffee shop being a place to buy a cup of coffee to a place to experience a good cup of coffee.

Quality control of their product was also extremely important. Starbucks sought to enrich the quality of the coffee they served by working with the growers to ensure a perfect brew every time, as well as enforcing standards, many of which have become industry norms.

They also dedicated considerable time to training. Each partner was trained in both the technical aspects of creating the drinks as well as how to connect with customers to maintain the same customer experience across locations. This commitment created employees that weren’t just focused on drinks, but customers too.

The final success component was partner satisfaction. It was the belief of former chairman and CEO, Howard Schultz, that happy employees would lead to higher customer satisfaction. And you can see that ring true today, as Starbucks employees are always helpful and engaged with their job and customers.

All of these factors aligned like stars, and the combination resulted in superior customer experience. But, what has changed since Starbucks’ rapid success in the 90s? Not much, except for growing to over 19,000 locations in 58 countries. There have been a lot of changes to the product offerings, including adding food and expanding the drink menu. However, the following qualities that started their success in the 90s are what continue to make them successful in today’s market:

  1. Atmosphere: Every time you walk into a Starbucks, you know you will be greeted with a smile and a friendly attitude.

  2. Continuity of Brand and Product: Every Starbucks has a similar feel, and your drink order will taste the same whether you are in New York or Spain.

  3. Employee Satisfaction and Training: The training of the staff, in both how to be personable with customers and knowledge of the product offering provide a superior experience that the Starbucks client base has come to expect.

Keeping employee satisfaction high is the key to providing a superior customer experience. Starbucks keeps its employees satisfied with competitive hourly wages, health benefits, and stock options. What can your organization do to improve customer service? What is it that your customers want and expect? NBRI helps companies just like yours become global leaders by combining powerful research with deep analytics. If you’re ready to join their ranks, here’s how we can help:

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