When I started working with and writing books about Starbucks (The Starbucks Experience and Leading the Starbucks Way) in the early 2000s, Starbucks’ leaders sought to create the “third place.” Conceptually, the “third place” was a gathering location between work and home. When meeting at work was too formal and meeting at home was too informal, you would want to meet at the “third place” – a welcoming environment appointed to evoke affordable luxury. The driving force for the Starbucks experience was communal, and stores were built to bring people together.
Fast forward to the September 2022 shareholders meeting, where Starbucks leaders announced a shift of experiential focus toward convenience. The Seattle Times recaps the announcement this way:
Starbucks’ unveiling of new stores and more efficient automated machines earlier this month marked the 51-year-old company’s definitive shift in focus from community building to convenience. The changes included a turn to drive-thru and pickup-only stores, a forecast of slower cafe-only store growth and the addition of efficient machines such as one that shortens a 20-step cold brew process to four steps….. Starbucks’ own term for its new initiatives is “experiential convenience.” These changes are part of the company’s “Reinvention,” a plan…focused on company growth…, with a revenue growth estimate ranging from 10% to 12%.
Irrespective of your industry, there is much to learn from watching Starbucks’ experiential shift. Most of these learnings are consistent with my friend Shep Hyken’s wisdom captured in his book The Convenience Revolution.
In addition to making a case for the emerging importance of customer convenience, Shep outlines six primary ways to drive convenience. I share his perspective to help you think about ways you can maximize (in Starbucks terms) “experiential convenience” and “reinvention.”
1) Reduce friction – Friction is the drag, extra steps, confusion, and customer effort required to receive products or services. Friction creates customer pain that increases the probability that customers will churn.
2) Increase self-service – Give customers the option to meet their needs without involving human interaction. The key word is “option,” – meaning human service should be available for those who opt not to take the self-service path.
3) Leverage technology – Not all technology reduces customer effort. Look for manual, repetitive, or simple processes that will be streamlined by technology. Increasingly these technology tools mobilize the guest experience and facilitate brand interactions from the customer’s mobile device.
4) Offer Subscriptions – This involves creating scheduled and automated content, products, and services for your regular customers. Rather than having your customers’ track reordering, you are essentially providing products at a cadence convenient to them.
5) Provide Delivery – Wherever possible, provide your products/service where the customer is, instead of requiring the customer to come to you.
6) Increase Access – Remove barriers to access by increasing your hours of availability and the ease by which they can engage you.
How well are you delivering “experiential convenience? More importantly, based on the six convenience drivers listed above, where do you have the greatest opportunity to revolutionize or reinvent your experience delivery?
To learn more about ways to drive “experiential convenience,” don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at josephmichelli.com/contact.
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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