I have been involved with Starbucks since 2004, beginning with initial research I conducted for my first of two books about them (The Starbucks Experience). During my more than a decade relationship with the brand, I’ve never ceased to be amazed by the commitment of Starbucks leaders when it comes to continuous improvement for both the customer and employee experience.
Recently, for example, Starbucks has loosened up the employee (referred to as partner) dress code – expanding the acceptable clothing color pallet beyond black, khaki, and white. They have also given the “green light” on green or whatever hair color suits the fancy of the partner.
In addition to partner engagement, leadership is also targeting customer experience enhancements driven by process changes and technology deployment. From a process perspective, Starbucks continues to explore ways to increase the speed of service. In fact, the brand recently opened its first “express store” in London’s Canary Wharf. That express store has divided the customer experience into 3 phases (order, pay and collect) and streamlines all processes and product options in order to cut the service time across the three phases by a factor of 50%. In addition to the London store, similar express stores will open soon in Toronto, Chicago, and New York.
When it comes to technology, Starbucks is elevating its mobile app to better fit a customer’s past purchase behavior. During an earnings call, Starbucks Chief Strategy Officer Matt Ryan noted, “We now have the opportunity, both in an email, which we’ve just begun, and this quarter, in our app, to do suggested selling. So we will be suggesting and making personalized offers within the context of our app that will allow people to see things that are right for them.”
Since most of us aren’t running coffee shops, what can we learn from these recent Starbucks moves:
In 7 words:
Make the Experience Faster and More Personal
While service speed and emotional engaging service may seem like opposite goals, Starbucks leadership is looking to expedite delivery AND make an authentic personal emotional connection with team members and customers.
When employee and customer engagement becomes challenging set a course for expedited service delivery that seeks to meet customers where they are!