Make it Their Own – Experiences that Connect

Installment 5 of this holiday retrospective, takes me back to my book The Starbucks Experience and the importance of not “doing the experience to your customers” but instead “doing it with them.”

At Starbucks, 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 pumps 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.

While seemingly endless details go into producing the emotional bond that occurs for loyal Starbucks customers, often the most important aspect of this bond is the personal investment of Starbucks partners.  As  Howard Schultz noted on, “….The success of Starbucks demonstrates …that we have built an emotional connection with our customers. …We have a competitive advantage over classic brands in that every day we touch and interact with our customers directly.  Our product is not sitting on a supermarket shelf like a can of soda. Our people have done a wonderful job of knowing your drink, your name,<and> your kids’ names….”

Starbucks executives and managers alike understand the importance of this personal connection. Leadership spends a great deal of time helping partners seize opportunities to positively affect the lives of those they serve and in so doing build the brand.

How are you making the personal connection by co-creating the experience with your customers?

Are you seizing opportunities to positively affect the lives of those you serve?

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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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