While you are reading this, you might get stumped at the idea of learning something from Starbucks. You might still be wondering how could a company that is frequently frowned upon for the quality of food and beverages it offers or for its row over tax issues and staff contracts teach you something! But, as a matter of fact, there is really much more to Starbucks, and one could definitely learn a thing or two from the Coffee giant! Starbucks has been rapidly scaled without losing its regional touch and now even Oprah Winfrey has her own Chai Latte!
I am usually not a big fan of the Coffee Giant, but my opinions about them changed after I made a few visits and now I always look forward to the experience! It is more about the company itself that drags me toward it rather than the quality of a cup of Coffee it offers starting from $2! So, there I was, at a nearby Starbucks outlet with my laptop plugged into their free WiFi and a Mozzarella sandwich to go with a triple Espresso; wondering what is the unknown making me like them, even when I was trying hard not to!
I’ll talk about a few things that I observed about them during my random visits, a few things businesses should learn from them. I was more compelled to write about them after I recently came across an article on how Starbucks is going to provide Free online education to its workers, after pairing up with Arizona State University!
- Make your customers feel at home:
The warm welcoming and greeting at the Starbucks outlets just make you forget that you are away from home. The ambience and atmosphere at their outlets are super conducive. I have now even penned down a few thousand words of my novel at their outlets, and I loved the experience each time. I even had the manager sometimes greet and having a small talk about college and my writing works, regardless of how busy the store is!
Their growth is not by simply luck or great marketing, its by these acts or the collective mindset throughout their organization giving the impetus to customer experience. Most of the businesses run on the model of trying to squeeze every penny out of their customers, and that’ll just make them flock away from your offerings!
Picture this: You can literally loiter at their outlets for five hours straight just with a cup of coffee! If it were a different enterprise, the genius MBA minds would consider it as a loss of ROI and love to charge an hourly basis! But they don’t realize the value of brand loyalty.
2. It sells more than just Coffee!
Starbucks understands the context of its offerings. The products offered at Starbucks are actually in context to your location, that means where and how you enjoy your cup of coffee is more important than the quality of the coffee itself!
It is now even setting up Tea bars, not making millions of Tea fans disappointed. Starbucks had acquired Teavana for $620 Million and has set up many tea bars throughout the USA. Starbucks in India offers tea through a partnership with Tata. Prior to 2012, Starbucks was criticized widely for its food offerings and they have worked tremendously on improving and increasing their food offerings.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was quoted as saying, “Some people think that said our food is not much better than cardboard, which I think is a fair criticism”. Responding to criticisms positively, understanding customers’ woes and working on improving them is a business model I think every business ought to make the most of.
It is not about rapid expansion.
3. Embrace technology
Starbucks is one of the best industry giant to embrace new technology as it comes! Starbucks was quick to include mobile payments from Square, a mobile payment company founded by Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter. Within a year or two of Square’s rise, Starbucks partnered with them to provide mobile payments at 7,000 outlets worldwide!
Thought that was nothing, think again! Starbucks took innovation a little more serious and built their own Cloud-based Clover Coffee machine! Over 1,000 stores worldwide now have these machines. They are used to control brewing time and temperature digitally, track customers’ preferences, issue receipts and monitor coffee makers using cloud technology!
If your business still hasn’t gone digital, it will soon be out of business! Digital is the way forward and when it comes to embracing technology, the sooner the better. Having an open mind about newer technology will pay big rewards in the long run!
4. Focus on Consumer Lifetime Experience
Businesses these days are giving more impetus to Monetizing, rather than crafting a perfect customer experience. Working around their customers with patience and a confidence that they will come back for the experience, even while not offering the cheapest coffee is what matters the most for Starbucks and they put their words into action.
The choice of furniture and lighting, the product names, the experience they craft for their customers is simply mind-numbing. No matter how narrow the niche of your business, consumer experience should come first. Businesses are all crafted around consumer experience and the unique interactions between them. Paying attention to small details sure sends a big message across your consumers — That you really care for their experience!
Your customers will get back to you again and spread out the word if you provide them with that lifetime experience. Don’t worry about expansion or monetizing, concentrate on the experience you create for customers, and leave no stones unturned in that regard.
5. Focus on Sustainable culture
Starbucks has definitely carved for itself a sustainable culture that is only to get better by day. The way it stood out from the competition in an already crowded marketplace is amazing. Offering the best experience, while working ceaselessly on improving their quality has made Starbucks one of the top places to work for and even a sustainable and profitable business.
The culture of Starbucks is so imminent that you can blindly enter a coffee shop and tell if its Starbucks by just sensing it. That’s the importance of culture in this retail economy and an asset that can’t be simply neglected or overlooked upon. While offering one of the best customer care and a clear long-term vision, Starbucks has definitely something businesses can take note of!
What do you think about Starbucks and the value it provides to its customers? Shout out your thoughts about Starbucks and about business below!