Starbucks Customer Service

When we think of excellence in business or what is known as Best in Class, what is it that drives such a company?

Quite often it is as simple as being excellent at customer service.

We have all seen companies that are terrible at customer service. It isn’t that these organizations think the customer isn’t right. In some instances, it’s as if the customer doesn’t count.

Somehow these organizations consider the customer to be a necessary evil to their business and treat them as such.

What Business Could Exist Without Customers?

Since the answer is none, why is so little significance often placed upon customer satisfaction?

Even the term customer satisfaction is mediocre term. For some companies customer satisfaction is far too little.

These organizations want raving customers, lifetime customers; people who will drive others to the organization for products or services.

To these organizations a satisfied customer is one that did not get the organizations best.

Is Good Enough, Good Enough?

There is a significant difference between good customer service and raving customer service.

The difference may seem philosophical, but can be the determining factor between surviving and thriving in your business in any economy, especially today’s.

Many organizations, too many, would look at creating raving customer service as a waste of time and resources.

Often these are the same organizations that struggle in down economic times and then wonder why.

Business decisions throughout the organization are made every day that impact customer service. How do businesses move from good to great? The first thing to understand is that, without customers, there is no business.

So customer service should be ranked as a high priority in any given business, possibly the highest.

Sounds simple, but many businesses will not put forth the effort; they consider good enough to be good enough.

Others would like to become great but struggle with providing the right kind or level of customer service for many seemingly significant reasons. These latter organizations look to protect what they have instead of searching for ways to be better or great. As one associate put it, “they’re guarding an empty dog dish!”

What moves a company from good to great?

For one thing, it is a deep internal understanding that customer service is not a division or group within an organization. It is the whole product or reason for the organizations existence.

The customer is the reason for the organization.

Therefore, for these organizations the whole organization needs to be totally focused on the customer.

Being the Best

One only needs to look at Starbucks. Starbucks took a cup of coffee and built a world-wide dynasty around it. Starbucks didn’t accomplish this by focusing on great customer service, which it has. Rather Starbucks determined that the whole organization is about customer service.

Everything at every level within the organization is about servicing the customer the best way possible.

This way of thinking about customer service creates a unique and satisfying experience at Starbucks for the clientele. Who doesn’t like Starbucks?

Every time I get one of the Starbucks gift cards my wife takes it from me. That’s loyalty to a brand.

To be great, customer service should be the defining and driving force within a business. It starts at the top and inculcates the organization from top to bottom and side to side.

At Starbucks, every employee is taught the coffee process from start to finish.

They learn every step of how Starbucks delivers their coffee from growers to the individuals handing you your mocha at the counter.

Starbucks is not about great coffee, but rather Starbucks is about great raving customer service over a good cup of coffee!

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Starbucks Principles

“Our coffee has always been and will always be, about quality. We’re passionate about ethically sourcing the finest coffee beans, roasting them with great care, and improving the lives of people who grow them. We care deeply about all of this; our works is never done,” Starbucks (2014).

Starbucks immerses their partners as they are called at Starbucks, in every aspect of the coffee business from the grower to the partner who hands the coffee over the counter to the client.

Is this how most organizations you are familiar with operate?

Consider for a moment that this customer service was built over a cup of coffee. Doesn’t that impress you?

I can make a cup of coffee at home in my high-end coffee maker. I can get pretty good coffee too, to use in that coffee maker.

However, I still stop at Starbucks and obviously so does my wife.

Why is that? It’s because of the people and the experience you have at Starbucks. Starbucks deserves to be great, they have earned it.

Best in Class

I’m often frustrated with organizations that cannot see the value in becoming very good or even daring to be great. Where are the organizations that want to be Best in Class and not an “also ran?”

I do realize that the cost often outweighs the gain by being better than just good enough from an accounting perspective.

Starbucks as well as the other organizations that refuse to be mediocre consider anything less than the cost of being great as a waste of revenue!

Maybe mediocrity is a foregone conclusion in this homogenized, digitized, and miniaturized world in which we now live. If we can’t have it at Giga or Tera speeds, why have it at all?

Every cell phone I’ve owned in the last decade has had bugs in it. We put up with all kinds of problems just to have the newest, fastest, smallest phone in the neighborhood. Who cares about quality or price, right?

Who has the best phone is a relative concept based upon the newest technology which changes at least every year. What sets these organizations apart is not their technology but their customer service. In that battleground, Apple wins.

You can walk into an Apple store with a shattered phone and in twenty minutes walk back out with either a totally fixed phone or a new one!

That’s hard to beat today in the highly competitive cell phone industry. If you haven’t noticed, Apple has raving customers.

Some organizations want to compete on price and fight for market share there. That’s understandable, but you are always under pressure to lower price and give more away to win that market share.

There’s a few though that desire to compete at the top. These are the organizations that usually do well in good economic times and bad.

Rather than fight over pennies, guarding an empty dog dish, these companies choose to be defined by the quality of their offers and how they deliver their customers the Best in Class.

Maybe I’m just a dinosaur and living in my own fantasy world, so I guess I wonder just how important is Best in Class today?

What Makes Great Customer Service?

If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Tim Cummuta
Tim is a Business Consultant in Strategic Planning, Productivity, HR, Sales & Marketing, and Risk Management. He has a Master’s Degree in Financial Planning and is pursuing a Ph.D in Organization & Management at Capella University.