Case Study


The following case study is an excerpt from John DiJulius’ best-selling book, The Customer Service Revolution.


We were growing the company with such speed and aggression that we lost sight of the Customer experience. – Howard Schultz, CEO

In 2010, Starbucks asked The DiJulius Group to help it re-create its Customer service vision statement. We’ve have worked with Starbucks in the past, but this was different. We were so excited about taking on this project, until we 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.”

Craig Russell, senior vice president of global coffee, talked about 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.” 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.

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. A Starbucks Customer is easy to relate to. 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 person- ally 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 our 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:

We create inspired moments in each customer’s day. ANTICIPATE CONNECT PERSONALIZE OWN

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 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.

    People want to be part of something larger than themselves. They want to be part of something they are proud of, that they’ll fight for, sacrifice for, that they trust. —Howard Schultz

    The changes made a big difference for Starbucks. Earnings rose 44 percent, Customer visits rose by 5 percent, and more Customers were paying for higher-priced items.

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The DiJulius Group and The Secret Service Summit have helped Starbucks take service to new levels by not only creating a Service Vision but also by helping us adhere to a common goal. The combination of hands-on expertise shared by leading brand executives and the emotional component from motivational speakers, has made your events like none other.

Craig Russell, Executive Vice President

Starbucks Coffee