Mobilize the Connection | How to Deliver World-Class Customer Experiences – Leading the Starbucks Way

This is the fourth in a 5-post series and we’re continuing on through the business concepts in my book Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles to Connect with Your Customers, Your Products, and Your People.

In the context of my principle, Mobilize the Connection, I talked with, then CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz about digital transformation. He noted, “We started before there was a digital revolution; the third place was our stores. Our mobile focus has evolved to the point where everyone is getting primary information and communicating in a way that was nonexistent before. I don’t think any enterprise or organization can exist in the future without having a primary relevant position in the minds and hearts of people through a digital platform. Many brands will come and go in terms of relevancy and trust in the digital world, as trust and relevance will be harder to maintain digitally than through a physical presence.”

At the core of Starbucks’ successful digital strategy have been several interrelated areas that attempt to connect with customers from the broad mass market to the one-to-one. The five key components of Starbucks evolving digital strategy have been 1) commerce, 2) company-owned web and mobile channels, 3) loyalty/customer relationship management (e.g., the company’s CRM/targeted database), 4) social media, and 5) paid digital marketing.

Early on, Starbucks’ mobile strategy was linked to gifting, and its mobile app, and ultimately to a robust rewards program. Initially, leaders developed a physical Starbucks gift card. When you gave that card to a friend and they registered it on the Starbucks website, your friend could either manually or auto-replenish it. Over time that card became integrated into the Starbucks app, which garnered breakthrough adoption as a mobile payment tool in the United States. Further evolutions have led to mobile ordering and a gamified loyalty program. The constant in the Starbucks technology journey has been to mobilize the connection Starbucks baristas forge in-stores and maintain engagement with the customer – on the customer’s terms.

Given Starbucks’ emphasis on using technology as an extender of human relationships and the brand’s multi-pronged digital strategy, here are this week’s challenge questions:

  • How consistently (throughout economic ups and downs) do you invest in technology?
  • What factors guide your technology investments?
  • Are you using technology to mobilize human connections with your brand? If so, how?
  • Does your digital strategy integrate multiple approaches to engage people across a mass-market and individually?

I hope you’ll consider purchasing a copy of Leading the Starbucks Way or if you already own the book, I would appreciate you taking the time to write a review on Amazon. You can also schedule a time to talk about mobilizing your customer connection through your digital strategy. Here’s to your journey toward world-class customer experiences – inspired in part by Leading the Starbucks Way.

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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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