Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Starbucks and Empowering Employees

Posted by Becky Carroll on June 2, 2008

 Those two topics go together, as Starbucks is a company that works to empower its employees (which they call “partners”) in order to improve the customer experience.  Their recent “We’ll Make Your Beverage Right” focus is a good example of this strategy.  More on Starbucks below, as well as in a post coming soon.

I am busy getting ready for a customer service workshop tomorrow, entitled “The Importance of 5-Star Service in a  Tough Economy”.  If you have a minute to send me your definition of 5-Star Service, I would love to include it!  You can send me email (becky at petraconsultinggroup dot com) or just leave a comment in this post.  I posted the question on Twitter as well as LinkedIn and have received nearly 20 responses from around the world.  I will summarize in a future post.

In the meantime, here are a few additional items to help start off your week. 

Re-Experiencing Starbucks Podcast

Jay Ehret and I spent some time together recently (about 24 minutes, actually) on a podcast, where we discussed the latest happenings at Starbucks as part of our Re-Experiencing Starbucks Project.  We are watching Starbucks from a customer’s perspective to see what kind of difference the changes are making (or not) to the customer experience. 

Here are some of the topics from the show:

  1. Improving the U.S. business with training, tools and new products.
  2. Re-igniting the emotional attachment with customers through the experience.
  3. Re-aligning and streamlining organizational structure for the benefit of the experience.
  4. International expansion.

You can find the podcast itself at Jay’s blog. Don’t forget to tell Jay that I sent ‘ya!

Blog Book Tour

I am honored to be one of the reviewers of Sybil Stershic’s new book, Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most, which is about taking care of employees so they take care of your customers.  Sybil’s publisher, WME Books, is hosting a Blog Book Tour; here are the scheduled stops:

And next week:

I will be giving a review of the book as well as conducting an interview with Sybil.  Let me know if you have any questions for me to include!

(Side note: I have other book reviews coming up soon; this may turn out to be book week!  Reviews are pending for Michael Port, Darren Rowse, Tsufit, and Lewis Green… stay tuned, as they all have great books in different areas which include blogging, PR, sales, and employee/customer focus.)


12 Responses to “Starbucks and Empowering Employees”

  1. Just a quick note to let you know what my definition of 5-star customer service is. two bullet points, very simple:

    * whatever the customer wants it to be
    * un-noticed

    Think customer-focused organizations, with proactive processes, perfect knowledge, and flexible processes. then go back to my two bullets above.

    Break a leg, hope this works (late is better than never)!

  2. said

    Starbucks and Empowering Employees…

    Those two topics go together, as Starbucks is a company that works to empower its employees (which they call “partners”) in order to improve the customer experience. Their recent “We’ll Make Your Beverage Right” focus is a good example of th…

  3. Glenn said

    I agree with Estaban. Specifically, when a a customer approaches a retail employee stocking a shelf or building a display and asks the location of a product, the employee cheerfully walks him to where the product is located,then pauses and, as if the customer and the employee are the only two people in the world, asks if there is anything else the customer needs. If not, the employee smiles and expresses genuine sincerity to the customer for shopping there.

    To get to this point, management must make it clearly understood to the employees that the customer’s needs are more important than restocking the shelves or building the displays.

    I would add that, whenever possible and practical to surprise the customer with a small service, gift, or other act of kindness. In Louisiana this is called “Lagniappe.”

  4. Sorry I didn’t read your post before your presentation, but I used to write for an Assisted Living corporation in the US.

    Their motto was, “The answer is yes, not what’s the question.”

    Richmond, VA

  5. Becky, hope your presentation went well. As you know, I was among the respondents to your question on Linkedin and posted about your question also. I look forward to learning more about the results. Best, Leo

  6. Thanks so much for all the additional responses to 5-Star Service! The workshop went very well, and the employees did some great brainstorming on how each of them could take ownership for providing 5-Star Service.

    Esteban, I like your simple definition. As someone mentioned in response to my LinkedIn question, customer expectations of 5-Star Service differ customer by customer. Un-noticed, or un-obtrusive works very well in the restaurant industry, where top servers just make it all happen without us having to ask. Thanks for your contribution!

    Glenn, I agree with you that being “fully present” for a customer is an important element of great service. I’d love to hear more about “Lagniappe”. Want to write a guest post on it? 🙂

    Bonnie, glad to have you here! I like the attitude of an organization that wants to say “yes” to its customers. Thanks for sharing.

    Leo, thank you for posting my question as well as for your answer on LinkedIn. I am pulling together a blog post on this to go out early next week. Stay tuned, and thanks for being a part of it all!

  7. darren said

    Great post, Becky!

    My definition of 5-star service, as I stress time-and-time again…

    1) when the customer wants it (“timing”)
    2) how the customer wants it (“delivery”)

    My thoughts on Starbucks, however, stem far and wide. I find the delivery of said service is certainly not consistent. I’ve written about two of these instances as well as I think they needed mentioning!

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