As the author of The Starbucks Experience, I endured predictions of the brands demise from some very esteemed colleagues. With rounds of layoffs, a January 29th 2009 announcement that 3oo stores were closing, a cooling economy, and increased competition for the gourmet coffee market, it was looking like Starbucks was on the ropes!
While other’s were bailing on the Starbucks ship, I held out great hope in a leadership team that understood the importance of customer experience. In the months that followed, the company enhanced customer relationships on- line via the mystarbucksidea.com website, built Facebook followership greater than any other business and second only to Lady Gaga. They also smoothly integrated foursquare into their social media tool kit and overall improved the in- store web browsing experience. All the while, the brand had gotten back-to-the-basics of more careful staff selection and more comprehensive customer experience training while emphasizing core coffee products and breakfast items.
As a result, Starbucks has been showing great signs of life. Profits increased starting back at the end of of 2009. This week Starbucks announced it will be opening 500 stores in the fiscal year that began in October. 400 of those stores will be outside the U.S., suggesting signs of a global economic recovery. Earlier this week, Starbucks was named “mobile marketer of the year” validating their leadership in the experience of mobile device users.
Lest I get too cocky and do an “I told you so” to the Starbucks naysayers, there is a far more important lesson here…
If you grow too fast, expand your products too far away from your core, and/or compromise the experience – the customer WILL leave (particularly in difficult economic times)! If you recover your identity and innovate experiences aided by common sense and technology… you are given the chance to recover, thrive and grow!
What part of this lesson did you need to hear today? What action will you take?