All Business is Personal – Consistency with a Twist

Dating back to my early work with Starbucks, (reflected in my first book about the global coffee leader titled – The Starbucks Experience), I have been asserting that ALL BUSINESS IS PERSONAL.

I often note that the next customer might be your 50th routine interaction of the day but for them, the contact will likely be their first and most important opportunity to feel that you care about them personally.

While I’ve long championed the importance of maximizing as much personal care as you can offer (while still driving consistency and profit), I couldn’t have imagined how much personalization would come to dominate consumer expectations.

Back in the early days of Starbucks, personalization took the form of allowing customers seemingly endless freedom to make their drinks their way. In fact in “The Starbucks Experience” I noted:

“Customers must be able to customize their beverage order, with the handcrafted assistance of their barista (the Italian word for bartender and term used at Starbucks for coffee preparer). Customization means satisfying each customer’s unique expectations and often involves special temperatures, soymilk, and various pumps of flavor. It’s not uncommon to hear customized orders for drinks as complicated as “quad, two-pump vanilla, one and one-quarter pump sugar-free hazelnut, ristretto latte, with one-quarter soy, one-half nonfat, one-quarter organic milk, extra hot, with three ice cubes and whip.” Such an order is but one part of the richness of the personalized Starbucks Experience.”

Today, at Starbucks and across the brand landscape, personalization has taken on gargantuan importance. For example, a company named Selffee, has developed proprietary technology which will allow customers to take a picture of themselves and have it printed onto their food in about a minute’s time. The founders Farsh Kanji and David Weiss note on their IndieGoGo crowdsourcing page, “Selffee brings photography and food together in a unique and visionary way. The Edible Photo Booth is the hottest new experience at special events. Selffee is perfect for corporate events, birthday parties, weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs or any other special occasion….Why have Selffee at your next event? 95 percent of attendees and customers take a photo with their Selffee and post it to social media. This boosts your event’s profile and makes it even more memorable!”

You can view their “personalized” value proposition on the video below.

Evolving from taking selfies with food to having selfies embedded in food is symbolic of the escalating need to personalize products and customize service delivery. An escalating customer appetite for personalization has resulted in a world where businesses must deliver consistency punctuated with an understanding of the uniqueness of the individual who is seeking your product.

So, what do you know about the customer in front of you or on your website right now? How do you leverage what you know about them to offer some level of customization of your products or services that align with who they are or what they value?

How do you operationally drive consistent product/service delivery with an added personalized twist? Better yet, how do you let each customer choose a journey through your product or service delivery experiences which will meet their personalized needs?

It’s not always as straightforward as having a customer superimpose a selfie on a cupcake but the outcome is just as tasty and rewarding!


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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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