I’ve been asked by Becky Carroll of Customers Rock!, who is joining Jay Ehret (Marketing Spot) on a project to track Howard Shultz’s efforts to get back to focusing on customers and the Starbucks experience.
For my contribution, I got to thinking if Howard feels the Starbucks experience has slipped since he left the company, what really IS the Starbucks experience? Because if you are going to improve it you have to define it and be able to measure it.
It seems the Starbucks experience is about these 3 P’s:
- People– the baristas and their connection with customers.
- Place – the physical stores, their design and aroma
- Product – the beverages, food, and merchandise
I set out to see what I could find from Starbucks and Howard himself on how the Starbucks experience is defined. Using their press release, and interview from Fortune magazine, and this post from the Starbucks Gossip blog, I’ve come up with the following to give us some into what the the Starbucks experience is all about:
- (People & Product) Customer connection and a fresh, hand-made beverage. The newer automatic machines (Verisimo?) that replaced the La Marzoccos are faster, but ”blocked the visual sight line the customer previously had to watch the drink being made, and for the intimate experience with the barista.” It seems that the personal connection between the baristas and the customers is the core of their experience.
- (Place) The aroma. ”… the loss of our people scooping fresh coffee from the bins and grinding it fresh in front of the customer, …” Some say the sale of hot food has detracted from the coffee aroma that customers attach to Starbucks stores.
- (Place) Store design. Design of their stores had taken on a more streamlined feel to gain efficiencies. But that resulted in the stores losing their charm and uniqueness. Starbucks has “stores that no longer have the soul of the past and reflect a chain of stores vs. the warm feeling of a neighborhood store. Some people even call our stores sterile, cookie cutter, no longer reflecting the passion our partners feel about our coffee.”
- (Product) Coffee related merchandise. As a purveyor of fine coffee and tea, Starbucks has struggled as of late to get their merchandise to reflect their brand and their history. “Some stores don’t have coffee grinders, French presses from Bodum, or even coffee filters.”
This is just a sampling of what makes up the Starbucks experience. I’ll keep you updated on our project as we gain more insight and see progress at Starbucks. I’ll close with this quote from Howard Schultz that best sums it up for now:
“Bottom line is we can’t exceed expectations of shareholders unless we exceed the expectations of customers first. And we do both by inspiring our partners and refocusing them on the customer.”