The following is content taken from John’s soon to be released book The Customer Service Revolution: Overthrow Conventional Business, Inspire Employees, and Change the World (January 2015 Greenleaf Books)
Creating the Starbucks Customer Service Vision Statement
“Putting our feet in the shoes of the Customers, [we understood] what they were dealing with and [their] anxiety . . . We were growing the company with such speed and aggression that we lost sight of the Customer experience.”
-Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ CEO,
Wall Street Journal 2011
In 2010, I had one of the highlights of my consulting career: Starbucks asked me to help it re-create its Customer service vision statement. I have worked with Starbucks in the past, but this was different. I knew this was going to be something that would live for a long, long time in Starbucks. Starbucks has always been one of my favorite companies, both as a Customer and as a Customer service consultant. I was so excited! I knew that no one helped create better Customer service vision statements than The DiJulius Group. I knew we were perfect for this project. I was so excited about taking on this project, until I asked them what their current vision statement was that they wanted to change: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”
I thought to myself, Wow, that’s pretty good. I honestly didn’t know if we could improve on that. I asked Craig Russell, senior vice president of global coffee, why he felt that statement didn’t work for Starbucks. He replied, “We love the statement; those are Howard’s [Schultz’s] words. It is more of our purpose. As far as a Customer service vision, it is too big, too aspirational. We want something that’s actionable, trainable, measurable.” As I thought about it, he was right. If someone comes in and orders a venti soy latte, and the barista gives it to them exactly how they ordered it, in ninety seconds, did the barista inspire or nurture their human spirit? Probably not. That is something that takes dozens and dozens of positive experiences. I believe Starbucks does that. But it doesn’t happen one time.
So we did what we do with all our consulting clients when making a Customer service vision statement; we started with scripting a day in the life of a Starbucks Customer (see chapter 5 for the day-in-the-life discussion). A Starbucks Customer is easy to relate to. Virtually anyone reading this book can relate, whether you actually frequent Starbucks or not. Starbucks Customers are people with discretionary income who are battling the hustle and bustle of their busy lives, trying to balance everything they have going on personally and professionally-people dealing with the daily grind that can wear us all down from time to time.
One of the biggest takeaways from this workshop that the group of executives from Starbucks shared was that Starbucks can’t change what’s going to happen today to its Customers. Whether they get a
flat tire on their way to work or they are irate because their package didn’t arrive next-day air, as promised, what Starbucks can provide (and does provide very well) is an escape-if only for a few seconds in the Customer’s day. Starbucks allows its Customers to step inside, collect themselves, see some friendly faces-whether it be the workers, friends, or neighbors from the community-and take a break, enjoy a beverage, regroup, and then go back and take on the world again.
There it was. The team had it: the Starbucks’ Customer service vision statement. One of my proudest trophies as a consultant is the Starbucks green apron. The next time you walk into a Starbucks, anywhere in the world, and you see a Starbucks employee wearing that signature green apron, politely ask them to turn the inside top of the apron over for you. There is where you will see the Starbucks Customer service vision statement and pillars printed. It reads:
Why is the service vision statement printed on the inside of the green apron? It isn’t for the Customers or public to see; it is for the Starbucks employees to see. And every time they put that apron over their head, they are reminded of their job for every Customer with whom they come in contact with.
The pillars to the Starbucks service vision statement
The four pillars to the Starbucks service vision statement have to do with the company’s key drivers of Customer satisfaction:
Anticipate- This might mean that if a barista notices a Customer in a business suit, at 6:05 a.m., ordering his coffee, while barely looking up from his smartphone, he probably has some place to be. Get him his drink and help him get on his way. On the other hand, it can be a completely different pace at 9:05 a.m., when a barista encounters a few mothers who just dropped their children off at school and seem to be in no rush.
Connect- A connection could be recognizing regulars and having their drinks ready for them, or it could just be a smile or a kind word.
Personalize- This means customization. With over eighty thousand ways someone can order a Starbucks beverage, you truly can have it your way.
Own- Starbucks trusts its employees. They can own the experience. If a little girl drops her hot chocolate, a Starbucks employee can give her a new one for free.
Each of the pillars is critical, but only in conjunction with each other. Customers want their drinks made exactly how they ordered it, quickly-but not by someone with an attitude. Just the same, a
Customer does not want someone to greet them by name and have their drink ready for them before they order it, only to have their drink made incorrectly.
Big Impact – The Starbucks service vision statement contributed to the company’s turnaround in 2010 and 2011. Earnings rose 44 percent, Customer visits rose by 5 percent, and more Customers were paying for higher-priced items.